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1 



•J 



THE GLORY 



OF THE SHIA WORLD 



• • _ • • • • 

• ••«•• • • 

• • • • • • 



••• ; 



• • • • ( 

•• • • • 

•«• • • • 

• ••••• 



•••• !•, 



• • • 

• • •• 



• ••••••• 



BijEN IN THE Well. 

{See p. lO.I 



THE GLORY 
OF THE SHI A WOia i) 



TflE TALK OP^ \ PIL(,k(\ \' ,\- 



TRANSLATED .'t EDITED FROM A HhR'-^.VN M W 



BY 



MAJOR P. M. SYKES, C.^^^i. 

.!!<> «i*f(.»iNNlC MAJFaTv's CO.NJ LI -O^ NT R A I 
ANr> Ai.t.NT JO I HK (.(>% tRNMI- M OF INPM IN K:<ORa'<X 
ROYAL COLD MKD'\rilSr OF THK RO\ AL T.EOr.R AVHi. Ai. 5o(l»i » 
Al'IHOR OK *rFN THolJSANT MII.FS IN »>»RMA' 

ASSISTED BY 

KHAN BAHADUR AHMAD DIN KHAN 

Al TACHE TO THF BRITISH CONSILAT » -f.I NFR "^ '. 



WriH MAKY ILLISTRATIONS IN THK TEXT AND 
FOl R COLOURKD REPRODl CTIOXS FROM PERSIAN PAIXTINCiS 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITEO 
ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

1910 



THE CIak:\ 



OF THE SH!A Ur;:i i) 



THE TALE OF \ Vi\ 



TRANSLATED & EDITED FROM K i ,' i' 

iiv 



MAJOR P. M. SYKI 



< { 



ri'S BKI'ANVIC MAJF.3T^ S CON! I I '.■' ''t ■ '. 
ANr> Af.S.NT TO THE GO". KR SMI* NT {)F IM M ^ » »• j 
Rt»YAL GOLD MEPALnST OF THE k<'.^ M. r,F.O<.. ^ 

ATIHOR or *'IFX THOUSANP MT.FS !n •" «- 

AS;>ISTED DY 

KHAN BAHADUR AHMAD l)}\ .-. ; . \ 

AlTACHi TO THE BRITISH CONSII All '.INHK' 



WITH MANX ILLl'STRATIONS I\ THK TKXT AND 
FOIR COLOURED REPRODUCTIOXS FROM PIJ-.SIAN TAlNi INXrS 



• • 



MACM[LLAN AND CO., LIMITED 
ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

I 9 lo 



• •' 












• • • 









THE SHIA WORLD 

the Meshed Shrine to me and brought me many 
of the quotations and aphorisms which are 
scattered about in the book. 

I can guarantee the accuracy of the various 
customs which are described, and my familiarity 
with the life has helped me to give the standpoint 
of the Persian, which is so different from our 
own. 

Finally, I did not intend to deceive the 
reviewers or the reading public any more than 
Morier did ; and I imagined that as the hero 
proclaimed himself the grandson of " Haji Baba " 
no further clue was needed. At the same time, 
for high authorities to consider that my work 
must have been written by a Persian constitutes 
high praise. 

P. M. SYKES, Major. 
H.M,'s Consul-Genera l. 

Meshed^ 7tk Janfiary 191 1. 



IV 



CONTENTS 



(Persian and English) 

CHAPTER I 
Mv Parentage and Birth .... 

CHAPTER II 
A Campaign in Baluchistan .... 

CHAPTER III 
A Persian Entertainment ... 

CHAPTER IV 
An Awful Tbagcry ...... 

CHAPTER V 
Mv Betrothal and Marriage .... 

CHAPTER VI 
Kerman, the Heart op the World 

CHAPTER VII 
The Death of Mirza Hasan Khan, Mustaufi 



THE SHIA WORLD 

CHAPTER VIII 

PAGE 

My First Mamuriat 11.9 

CHAPTER IX 

The Persian New Year 138 

CHAPTER X 

The Pilgrimage is Vowed . . . . l6l 

CHAPTER XI 

Yezd, the Prison of Alexander . . .177 

CHAPTER XII 

Robbed in the Lut . . . . ipi 

CHAPTER XIII 

The Arrival at the Sacred Threshold . 214« 

CHAPTER XIV 

The Sacred Shrine of the Imam Riza . 234 

CHAPTER XV 

The Pilgrimage is accepted . . .258 

Epilogue 279 



VI 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

IN COLOUR 
Bijen in the Well . . . - ■ Frontispiece 

Hazrat All slays Marhab .... Face page 1 5 

Laila and Majnun ....... 34 

Skm/ih Sinan meets the Christian Maiden . „ 42 



IN BLACK AND WHITE 

From a Kernian Carpet (Headpiece) . 
From a Kerman Shawl (Headpiece) 
From an Earthenware Water Pipe (Tailpiece) 
From an Old Ivory Dagger-Hilt (Headpiece) 
From a Copper Lantern (Headpiece) . 
(Tailpiece) . 
From Lustred Pottery (Headpiece) 
Mohamad Ismail Khan, the Vakil-ul-Mulk 
The Mahiin Shrine ..... 
A Design from Old Pottery (Tailpiece) 
From a Carpet (Headpiece) 
Sirdar Husein Khan and his Family . 
The Fort of the Rebel Baluch 



THE SHIA WORLD 



Head, from a Birjand Carpet (Tailpiece) 

From a Tile of the Fourteenth Century (Headpiece) 

The Garden at Mahun 

Skaykh Ahmad .... 

From an Old Tile (Tailpiece) 

From a Bronze Mirror (Headpiece) 

The Governor's Falcons . . • 

The ^^ White Fort" . 

The Stone Pulpit of the '' White Fort 

A Persian Salt Swamp 

From an Old Vase (Tailpiece) 

From Old Needlework (Headpiece) 

A Persian Wedding .... 

From a Sasanian Brass Bowl (Tailpiece) 

From an Old Brass Tray (Headpiece) 

The Fort of Ardeshir 

A Parsi Gardener .... 

A Persian Band .... 

A Kerman Carpet and its Owner 

Plan of the Meshed Shrine ... 

Design from an Old Brass Tray (Tailpiece) 

From an Earthenware Water Pipe (Headpiece) 

Mirza Hasan Khan, Mustaufi 

The Mullah . . . • . 

From the Sheath of a Dagger (Tailpiece) 

From an Enamelled Box (Headpiece) 

In the Jabal Bariz .... 

Gipsy Musicians .... 

From an Old Brass Tray (Tailpiece) . 

From a Carpet (Headpiece) 



PAGE 

SS 
34 
35 
45 

49 
50 
52 
55 
56 
60 
64 
65 
73 
82 
83 
86 
87 

89 

91 

Face page 101 

101 

102 

109 
112 
118 

119 
125 
133 
137 
138 



vni 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

The Dervish at No Ruz .... 

The Shah*s Wrestler ..... 

Detail from a Kerman Carpet (Tailpiece) 
Quotation from Hafiz (Headpiece) 
Mahmud Khan ...... 

Detail from a Kerman Carpet (Tailpiece) 
From a Nomad Carpet (Headpiece) . 
The Koran Stand at Anar .... 

Yezd and its Wind Towers 
From an enamelled Box (Headpiece) . 
Leaders of the Muharram Procession . 
The Muharram at Yezd .... 

The Caravanserai at Rizab .... 

Gholam Ali, " Cut Hand " . 

A Meshed Banker ..... 

From Lustred Pottery (Headpiece) 
Baluch Nomads ...... 

Turbat-i-Heideri ..... 

The " Lower Avenue/* Meshed . 

From a Turkoman Carpet (Headpiece) 

The Imam taking the Poisoned Grapes from the 

Caliph ...... 

The ^^Old Court," showing Nadir's Fountain in the 

foreground ...... 

The Golden Porch of Nadir Shah 

The Tomb Chamber ..... 

The Golden Door at the Foot of the Tomb 
From a Metal Lantern (Headpiece) . 
Mirza Hasan Ali, the Poet 
The Mosque of Gauhar Shad Aga 



PAGE 

140 
153 
160 
161 
167 
176 
177 
182 
186 

191 
195 

199 
208 
209 
211 
214 
222 
225 
231 
234 

235 

241 
245 
251 
255 
258 

259 
263 



IX 



THE SJIIA WORLD 

In the Kuhpaia District .... 
From an Earthenware Water Pipe (Tailpiece) 
The Seal of the Imain Riza 
From a Lacquered Pen Box (Headpiece) . 



PAGE 

273 

277 
278 

279 



Note. — The headpieces and other designs are drawn hy Miss 
E. R. Sykbs, from objects in Major Sykes's collection. 




FROM AN EARTHENWARE WATER PIPE 



.... ... ^''^''"1^ 

:'^''4' Y''^-V>|^' ''''k'^'fl/' 'J'M'^^'''^- 



PROLOGUE 

In tlie name of Allah, the Compassionate, 
the Merciful. 

Boundless praise and countless expressions of 
gratitude are due and befitting to tfiat Lord of 
the Universe, in the understanding of the sub- 
stance of whose nature the intelligence of the 
Wise and the deep thoughts of tlie Philosophers 
are coifounded and stupefied. 

If dried grass can Teach the boUom of the Sea ; 
Then huviaa intelligeitce can comprehend the imhslance 
of His nature. 

Salutations and praise be a sacrifice to tlie 
feet of the Presence of t/te noblest of tlie Uni- 
verse and tfie Epitome of all that exists: the 
Sovereign who wears the ring, by which he is 
ordained to be the last Prophet,^ and who bears 
the Seal of Prophecy on his back. 

' Thh refers to Mohamed. 



B^-™^P^W 



THE SHIA WORLD 

Thou werl created before all the Mighty Sovereigns : 

Although Thou hast appeared the last, 

the last of the prophets, I know thy nearness to Allah : 

Thou hast come late, because thou hast come from a great distance. 



Boundless praise and peace be on his innocent 
descendants and his crowned Vice-regents^ who 
are the Kings of all the worlds and of what it 
contains: especially on His Cousin^ Son-in-law^ 
Vice-regent and incomparable Vizier^ the Chief 
of the Mohamedans^ the Leader of the Pious, 
tlie Victorious Lion of Allah, Ali, son of Abu 
Talib, on him be Peace! He whose birth-place 
was the House of Allah^ and whose resting-place 
was the shoulders of the Prophet.^ 

The " Lion of Allah " ha^ been horn, 

Whatever there was behind the curtain has appeared. 

And thousands of praises be on the eleven 
descendants, who are the Signs of the Zodiac 
in the heaven of the Imamate ; and mm*e especi- 
ally upon Ali Ibn Mu^a, Al-Riza, who is tlie 
eighth Imam ^ and the seventh Kibla or point of 

adoration^ 

• • • • • 

1 This refers to the fact that Alt was actually horn inside the haram 
at Mecca. 

2 The Prophet wished to destroy the idols at Mecca ; and, to reach 
them, Ali mounted on his shoulders. 

3 According to Shia tenets, the Imams were spiritual and temporal 
successors of the Prophet by divine right. 

* Mecca, Medina, Najaf, Kerbela, Samira, and Kazimain are the 
other six Kibla. 

• • ■ 

Xlll 



PROLOGUE 

Nundlah Khan, son of Mohmned Hvsein 
Khan, of Isfahan by descent, has written these 
few lines, describiTig his life and his pilgrimage 
to the Glory of tfte Shia World, the Shniie of 
tfie holy Imam Riza, on Him be Peace, for the 
information of the inhabitants of the Seven 
CUviates. 

In short this is composed 
That our memory may remain. 

From my readers, I beseech their prayeis and 
beg tJiat, if they perceive any error or mistake, 
they will cover it with the eye of forgiveness and 
overlook it because. 

No hutnan being in free Jrom error. 




CHAPTER I 

MV PARENTAGE AND BIRTH 



In the year of the separation 1276,' a poet and 
a historian, if not the first poet of modern Iran, 
in the form of the narrator of the following 
events, or, in other words, I, Nurullah Khan, 
emerged from the plain of Nothingness into the 
atmosphere of Being. But before introducing 
myself to tlie Possessors of Wisdom of the 
inhabited quarter of the world I will, in the first 
place, narrate from what family I am sprung. 
The poet says 

Supposing your father was a learned man ; 

What amount of liis learning has descended to you ? 

Whether this verse applies to me or not I 
will leave to the decision of the reader who 

' The Mohaniedaii era eommeiii.'es fi-vni tlie day on ivhich the 
Prophet fled from hostile Mecca to friendly Medina, a.h. 1276 = 



• • • • 

■* T * * • • » - 



» _ • • 



*•• »• •*.* 



THE SHIA WORLD 

reads this narrative to the end ; but my present 
object is simply to show that my father was 
somebody, and that I am not of those who have 
not seen their fathers' tablecloth spread.^ 

My paternal grandfather was Haji Abul 
Hasan Khan ^ who first discovered London ^ to 
us Persians. He it was, who was instructed by 
Fath Ali Shah, may Allah forgive Him ! to 
appear at the Court of the English monarch, 
where he lost no opportunity of increasing the 
fame of Persia. In short, thanks to my glorious 
ancestor, the English believe that Persia is 
covered with rose gardens where, as world- 
renowned Hafiz wrote. 

The bulbul at dawn laments to the East wind : 
Of the havoc that the rose and its scent made. 

Indeed, such honours were paid to my ancestor 
of auspicious fortune, that I have been informed 
that he was offered the Order of the Jarreti^re,^ 
but declined it — at least he never appears to 
have brought the insignia of the Order back with 
him to Iran. 

Upon the death of my honoured ancestor, 

^ i.e. of low extraction. 

2 This individual was the original of Morier's ever famous '^ Haji 
Baba." Haji is the title of honour given to those who have per- 
formed the pilgrimage to Mecca. 

2 Persians invariably speak of England by the name of its 
capital. 

* Under this name the Order of the Garter is well known in 
Persia, and is held to be the highest in the world. 

2 



m 



MY PARENTAGE AND BIRTH 

may Allah pardon him ! my father and his 
brother found that they had only inherited debts, 
as the deceased Hqji had always been a lover of 
generosity, and had spent everything he possessed, 
and had even incurred debts during his famous 
embassy, in order that the name of Persia should 
be exalted, which object can only be attained by 
spending money freely. Truly has it been said, 
" Give money and beat the drum, mounted on 
the moustachios of a monarch." 

However, generosity in every form is one of 
the greatest of virtues, as a tradition from the 
Prophet, on Him be Peace ! runs : 

" A generous man will not be thrown into 
hell, although he be a libertine ; and a miser 
will not enter paradise, although he be a saint." 

Nor was it long before the two orphans found 
that friendship is of greater value than pearls of 
the Sea of Oman, as Path Ali Khan, Nuri, who 
was a distant relation of my grandfather and 
indebted to him for having solved many political 
puzzles for his benefit, came to our aid. Indeed, 
he no sooner heard of the sad event than he 
took both my father and my uncle into the kind 
lap of his family and treated them as his own 
sons. As Maulavi says with truth : 

Whatever atoms of one stock exist 
In heaven or on the earth. 
They attract one another like straw and amber. 

3 



■*4M 



THE SHIA WORLD 

Fath Ali Khan, Niiri, was, my father always 
declared, of so noble a character, of such pre- 
possessing appearance and of such manly bearing, 
that the Shah-in-Shah occasionally condescended 
to term him Darya-i-Nur^ or "Sea of Light." 
By such acts did the Kajar Shahs bind their 
subjects to them with chains of kindness, which 
are stronger than steel. As the poet says : 

My friend has put a cord round my neck, and takes me 
wherever he wills. 

Upon the death of Fath Ali Khan, may Allah 
forgive him ! his son, Mohamed Ismail Khan, 
continued to show kindness to the two orphans, 
and when he was appointed the Vizier of 
Kiumarz Mirza^ the Governor-General of Ker- 
man and Baluchistan, my father and uncle 
accompanied him to that distant province. 

Mohamed Ismail Khan was so capable that 
he soon became Governor-General himself, and, 
in time, appointed my father, Mohamed Husein 
Khan, to the Governorship of Mahun ; and here, 
as I have already related, I came out from the 
world of ease and pleasure into that of pain and 
pride. 

^ The Darya-i-Xur is the name of cue of the most celebrated 
diamonds in the Persian regalia. Persian monarchs are addicted 
to mild puns, in which connection Nasir-u-Din Shah wrote that 
Ballater was well named, being balatur or higher than Aberdeen. 

- Mirza after a name signifies a prince ; before a name it means 
a man who can read and write. 

4 



MY PARENTAGE AND BIRTH 

My mother, may Allah forgive lier ! was the 
daughter of a Kajar nobleman whose father, 
after the capture of Kennan by Aga Mohamed 



Shah, had been given a property belonging to a 
rebel Khan and had settled down in the province. 
She was very fond of me and saved me many a 
castigation at the hands of my father for boyish 
freaks. Show every reverence to your mothers. 



1? 

I 

i 



THE SHIA WORLD 

O my readers, for, as the Prophet says, "Paradise 
is at the feet of the mothers. 

Now, as I hope to act as an interpreter of the 
customs of Iran, I will tell you what rules are 
observed when a woman is on the road to reach 
her desire. These rules may appear to the 
ignorant strange ; but he should remember that 
they all are based on experience. As we say : 

If the bat cannot see in the daylight, 
It is not the fault of the sun. 

In the first place, she shows an extraordinary 
craving to eat charcoal or Armenian earth. ^ Of 
course, no exertion is allowed, nor may a grave- 
yard be crossed ; indeed, it is against the custom 
for her to enter the kitchen at night, for it is 
then haunted by Jinns. If, however, a woman 
in this condition falls into cold water, the eyes 
of her child will be big arid lustrous. Again, 
should an eclipse of the moon occur during this 
period, the woman must not look at it ; also if, 
by any mishap, her hands touch her body while 
the eclipse is on, a black mark is sure to appear 
on the body of the child. 

When seven months are passed, a feast is 
held on an auspicious day. Three basins, con- 
taining flour, butter, and sugar respectively, are 
prepared ; on these the woman places her hands, 

^ Tills habit of earth eating is widely spread in Asia. 

6 



MY PARENTAGE AND BIRTH 

and their contents are distributed, with nuts, to 
the poor. On this day too the woman is placed 
facing Mecca, is anointed with rose-water, and 
blessings are invoked. 

After this auspicious ceremony has been con- 
cluded, the child's clothes are commenced and, 
when the confinement is at hand, clods of earth 
are procured, the opening chapter of the Koran is 
breathed on to them, and they are then thrown 
into a well to ensure an easy delivery. A plant, 
termed " Miriam's hand," ^ is also thrown into a 
basin, together with an iron ring, and the patient 
drinks this efficacious draught. Frequently, too, 
a woman is asked to forego a portion of her 
dowry. 

When the happy event has taken place, no 
glass may be brought into the room from fear 
that its rays might make the child squint ; indeed 
the very word may not be mentioned. More- 
over, no one wearing black clothes is allowed to 
enter. 

One very important secret I have kept to the 
last, and that is that Persian children are finer 
and fairer than any others, because pomegranate 
juice is freely imbibed by their mothers, and its 
wonderful colour is reproduced in the rich blood 
of their offspring. 

On the seventh night the joints of the child 

^ This plant is commonly known as ^^The rose of Jericho." 

7 



rwy 



THE SHIA WORLD 

are smeared with antimony, and the " Yasin " 
chapter of the holy Koran is specially written 
on a scroll with its ends joined. Every one sits 
in a circle, and the child is passed three times 
through this scroll which we term '' the circle of 
Yasin." Thus early is an infant imbued with 
the tenets of our holy religion. Indeed, our 
customs, of which I have given examples only, 
are really wonderful in their completeness ; and 
it is, in part, thanks to them that we Iranis need 
fear no comparison with any other race of people 
in the world. 

My earliest recollections of Mahun relate to 
its wonderful shrine, and, in my own mind, I 
think that perhaps its beauty affected my dis- 
position, and helped me to write verses which 
are considered by the experts of this fine art to 
be as sweet as sugar and as pleasant as a nightin- 
gale. The shrine, you must know, was built in 
honour of Sayyid^ Nur-u-Din, Shah Namat 
UUah, may Allah enlighten his grave, and it is 
necessary that I should represent to you who he 
was. Sayyid Nur-u-Din was a descendant of 
the holy Imam Bakir, and was born at Aleppo. 
In his extreme youth he began a series of travels, 
which would alone have made him famous. 
Indeed, His Holiness not only visited the Shrine 

^ A Sayyid is a descendant of the Prophet by his daugliter 
Fatima, who was married to Ali. 

8 



MY PARENTAGE AND BIRTH 

of the Commander of the Faithful at Najaf, and 
of the Prince of the Martyrs, Husein, at Kerbela, 
but on foot he performed a pilgrimage to the 
House of Allah at Mecca. 

Some years later he travelled to Samarcand, 
at that time the capital of Amir Timur,^' who 
treated the Saint with great distinction, wel- 
coming him in these words : 

May the sockets of my eyes be thy nest ! Be gracious and 
dismount^ because the house is Thine. 

Finally, the Saint condescended to choose 
Mahun as a place of rest, and, although he 
honoured distant India by travelling thither to 
the Court of Ahmad Shah, Bahmani, who prided 
himself on being the meanest of his disciples, 
yet, for him, Mahun became his native place, 
and there he lived many years benefiting the 
people with his manifold virtues. 

Not that he was alone as, apart from his 
numerous disciples, from the Seven Climates 
came envoys bearing the presents of mighty 
sovereigns who thirsted for his prayers and wise 
advice. Indeed, from India alone, the value of 
the gifts received by the Saint was so great, and 
the circle of his disciples had become so extensive, 
that the jealousy of Shah Rukh, son of Amir 
Timur, was excited ; and, but for the prayers of 

^ Sc. Tamerlane. 
11 



THE SHIA WORLD 

the pious lady, Gauhar Shad Aga, sacrilegious 
hands would have taxed the property of His 
Holiness ; but, thanks be to Allah, this disgrace 
was averted. 

A short story about Shah Rukh may not be 
out of place here. He had ordered an ancient 
mosque to be pulled down, and was superin- 
tending the operation of demolition, when he 
heard a Darwesh, who was standing close by, 
laugh loudly. 

On inquiring the cause of this hilarity, the 
holy man replied : 

The father used to demolish 

The dwelHngs of the people of Allah : 

And the son has not spared 

Even the house of Allah. 

Such were the descendants of the great Amir 
Timur ; and the intercession of the lady was 
due to the fear of the bad consequences which 
must follow such insolence, for she knew very 
well that : 

The rod of Allah makes no noise ; 
But that if it once strikes. 
There is no remedy against it. 

Shah Namat UUah, may Allah keep his grave 
fragrant ! was indeed a great Sufi Saint ; but, as 
it is possible that even some of the wise men of 
Farangistan do not know exactly what the Sufi 
system is, I will give some account of it, although 
orthodox Shias consider it heretical. 

12 



MY PARENTAGE AND BIRTH 

Yet Allah knows how many thousands of 
them, although holding different convictions, 
are drawn to it : 

He said that I am like a mirror 
Palished by my friend. A Turk 
Or a Hindu will see in it 
What he himself is. 

Now a Sufi believes that not only True Being 
but all Beauty and all Goodness belong to Allah 
alone ; as they say : 

Allah was and there was 
Naught beside Him. 

In short, Allah is Pure Being, and all else 
only exists in so far as the Being of Allah is 
infused into it. Indeed the heavens and earth, 
with all they contain, are a manifestation of 
Him. All pious Mussulmans pray daily and say 
that there is no God but Allah ; but the Sufi 
holds that there is nothing but Allah. Higher 
than this no human brain can soar ; and, to 
illustrate the nobility of a Sufi's thoughts, I will 
quote a few lines from Jami, who is considered 
to be a great exponent of the Sufi system. He 
wrote : 

Whatever heart 
Doth yield to Love, He charms it. In His love 
The heart hath life. Longing for Him, the soul 
Hath victory. That heart which seems to love 
The fair ones of this world, loves Him alone. 
Beware ! Say not, ^^ He is All-Beautiful, 
And we His lovers ! " Thou art but the glass, 

13 



- . "-L ~ ?^ - ^''"^' -'■'♦TB^'^ \^.. mniimi I ■ eaBiBg'^'^:s'*^»^p—^*^p"^BBH 



THE SHIA WORLD 

And He the Face confronting it which casts 
Its image in the mirror. He alone 
Is manifest^ and thou in truth art hid.^ 

As to the Saint's prophetic greatness, I will 
merely mention that, some years ago, it was one 
of his prophecies which caused a revolt of the 
Indians against the English in Hindustan. This 
potent prophecy ran as follows : 

Fire-worship for a hundred years/ 
A century of Christ and tears ; 
Then the true God shall come again, 
And every infidel be slain. 

The path of Allah is concealed, and it is not 
possible to say why He decreed that the English 
should have prevailed ; but one thing I have 
heard, which is that the Sikhs, who were very 
warlike, aided the English because of a prophecy 
of their great GhirUy Tig Bahadur. 

This spiritual teacher was imprisoned by the 
Moghul Emperor Aurungzeb, and was con- 
demned to death for daring to gaze at the walls 
of the women's apartments of that bigot. 

When summoned to receive his doom, the 
Guru — by Allah, although a Kafir, he was a 
brave man ! — said, " O King, I looked not at the 
walls of thy women's apartments ; but beyond, 
across the great sea to a distant land in the west, 

^ I would take this opportunity to acknowledge my deep in- 
debtedness to the works of Professor E. G. Browne. 

14 



•• • 






• • 



• •• 



• • • • 



• • 






• • • 



■z: 



Mai 



fUfc... «■ ■* 



'', fair-hairet. 



.' '. \ J ur 5 1 



(••*»%** 1( 



Allah the AH-N'- • 
i' the pr(>])hecy of '^s - . 
the tvninnv (»!' \' 
.iy without jastifi( i* 
H' Iran this s-t^i* i -'i: •»• • 
Ny a!J Sliias, for not .. ' 
•:tN Shias an<l tin' Stol- 
k of upward li'ijl •; •• 
rd must lie liave l)t« •. 't 



t: t 






w 



it 



.» \. anuv in* k, whalt.'ver i i>'»'. •• 
' I'hou art an i?i?j.i'l,.i lir* -v.; » ; .. 



.•u»l(l of Our*^ 



•Oj I I J 



* l)'X»kt'n th\ M r I' V \ . r. . ..../; 



: .»■' 



I i ' 



• . ' ' V I 



' -^ ,1 I' •'• irateway, sii]>]».jj ..: »•% 

i n:** t. ''>!i.:. 1 <*ourt, built K«. '•. ! 
I*ersia, a suvtJ'd (otirt lead> -.j r* tj/^- 
. which is surroun<N d hv a eovciv d l-' :'rv 
surmounted by a blue d ^ne. 
• '^ Abbas constructed l':e western uallo! \ ; 
'"• Saint is buried beneath the dome, and 
Aiunad Ixdunani honoured liimstlf l)\ 
.•rating this buildinjr. The doors are of 
'•rly carved sandal-wood, and open on to 
. »*ourt with cypresses and flowers planted 
•I vast double tank of limpid water. 

1 .0 



MY PARENTAGE AND lUKTll 

^^ence a white, fair-haired race will <oinc ^o 
c-nt^e me." 

Perhaps Allah the All-Wise hiiidcrtd ti^* 
. rihnent of the prophecy of Shah Naniat I !;:i:-. 

^%!nir to the tvrannv of Aurunuzeb, \\Li •. 
.lA wholly without justificatioiu Indeed. «.\« ^ 
i-day, in Iran this stony-hearted s()vcHi.^:i - 
;rsed by all Shias, for not only thr Sikhs, h..- 
•o pious Shias and the Sufis, all sulfcreci tru.M 

♦ lack of inward light in matters div^j* 

• M '^nt must he have been of the heuul.itul 
p-.s : 

■ .:(' bat-k. c*m\v. back, whatever Thou inavrsl \k 
'•<ther Thou .iit an infidel, a fire-worshipper, or aii ^h.!it< t. 
- .V Threshold ot" ( hjrs is not a Threshold of D(..-)»'ir. 

' \U)u hast l)roken i Sy oath even a hundred iiuH-s, r tnii' li-uk, 

I will now describe to you the shrine, whirli 
^ «^Mitered by a fine gateway, supported by two 

• inrets. TraA'ersingacourt, built by M(>hain< d, 
:* :»h of Persia, a second cojuI leads up to tijc 

nt), which is surrounded bv a covered ij-allerv 

• surmounted by a blue dome. 

Shah Abbas constructed the western ijjallerv ; 

.! the Saint is buried beneath the dome, and 

' ah Ahmad Bahmani honoured hnnself bv 

M^tructing this building. The doors are of 

'juisitely carved sandal-wood, and open on to 

'\ ely court with cypresses and flowers planted 

' ::'.l a vast double tank of limpid water. 

15 



r 



THE SHIA WORLD 

Here, every evening, the learned Custodian 
of the shrine loved to receive visitors from every 
Mussulman land, and here, from my earliest 
boyhood, I came to drink in the pearls of dis- 
course, and to gaze on the beauty of the tiles, 
the greenery, and the running water. At that 
time, Allah knows, I understood not why the 
spot was so dear to me ; but, in later days, when 
I travelled, I always felt that there was some 
perfection in Malum which cannot be equalled 
elsewhere in Iran. 



CHAPTER II 

A CAMPAIGN IN BALUCHISTAN 



I HAD just reached my fourteenth year when 
my father was summoned to Kerman, where he 
remained for several days. Upon his return he 
informed us that he had been appointed as Com- 
missioner to settle the affairs of Baluchistan, 
which were in a most disordered condition. 

Now perhaps you do not know that, owing 
to its deserts, its savage people, and its remote- 
ness, Baluchistan had only recently been subdued 
by the victorious Shah, Nasir-u-Din. In conse- 
quence, the Baluchis, hating Persians both as 
their conquerors and the introducers of civilisa- 
tion, had rebelled and were besieging the Persian 
Governor in the fort of Bampur. 

Fortunately Bampur was strong, well provided 
with supplies, and occupied by a considerable 
garrison ; but, as the wild Baluchis had assembled 



THE SHIA WORLD 

in their thousands, and had beaten back army 
after army sent to relieve the fort, the garrison 
began to lose heart, praying "for a hand to 
appear from the Unseen." 

The Governor - General wisely decided to 
send a strong force, with many guns, which the 
Baluchis especially fear ; and, even more wisely, 
he appointed my father to command it. For, 
during the years that he was Governor at 
Mahun, my father, who was of immense stature, 
by his activity, his faultless marksmanship in 
hitting an egg while at full gallop, and, above 
all, by his courage, had made such a reputation 
for himself that men compared him to Kustam, 
and sivore that he too would have rescued Bijen 
out of a well, or performed any other of those 
great feats that have made Rustam's name 
famous throughout the Seven Climates. 

A Kfian once asked my father how it was 
that he who was the son of a man of letters 
always displayed such extraordinary bravery and 
all other qualities of the men of the sword. He 
replied, " One day, when I was sixteen years old, 
I was reading poetry, and by chance I read 
these lines : 

If lordship lies within the lion's jaws, 
Go, risk it, and from those dread portals seize 
Such straight-confronting death as men desire. 
Or riches, greatness, rank, and lasting ease. 

18 



■ ^, f. w — ■ — ^"l^" 



A CAMPAIGN IN BALUCHISTAN 

He added, "I was so fired by these verses, 
which I kept repeating hourly to myself, that 
ever since I have been proof against all fear." 

By Allah ! few men had such a father as I 
have had ! As the poet says : 

If you want to succeed to the inheritance of your father, 
Acquire your father s attainments. 

A week was spent in making arrangements 
for transport, in arming and clothing the whole 
party, and also in packing up large supplies, not 
only of cartridges, but also of tea, sugar, and 
other stores, for, in Baluchistan, not even a 
packet of candles can be purchased. During all 
this time I had been begging my father's chief 
servants to intercede for me to be allowed to go 
in his service, and, at last, to my joy, my father, 
who rarely spoke to me, said, " Dost thou wish 
to see the deserts of Baluchistan ? " I replied, 
" Whatever Your Excellency orders I obey." 

My father thought for a while and then said, 
" How can I expose a raw youth like thou art 
to the hardships of such a journey ? 

If thou art not a lion, do not pass through a lion-infested 

jungle, 
For many a brave man is sweltering in his own blood there.*' 

Whereupon I made bold to quote the following 
verse : 

Much travelling is needed to season rawness. . 

19 



THE SHIA WORLD 

I could have quoted more fine verses but was 
overcome with shame. My father, however, 
seemed pleased and remarked, "Thou, my son, 
art indeed raw; but Inshallah^ the sun, the 
desert, and the hardships will season thee." 
Thus my father ordered, and, although my 
mother wept continuously for three days, it was 
all in vain ; indeed it only made my father 
angry. 

We quitted Mahun before the winter set in, 
and, consequently, we felt it quite hot when we 
reached Bam, where I saw date-palms and orange 
trees for the first time in my life. Our party 
was met by the general of the troops and one 
hundred sowars ; and two infantry regiments 
lined the river-bed which divides the town into 
two quarters. 

For some days we halted to make final 
arrangements for the large force, of which my 
father had now assumed the supreme command, 
and, as I was without work, I spent the time in 
studying the history of Bam and visiting its 
famous buildings, for thus early did my love of 
historv show itself. 

Chief among the sights of Bam is the famous 
fort, which is considered to be the strongest and 
the loftiest in the world, and, indeed, after care- 
fully examining it, I think that this is proved. 
In short, as the verse runs : 

20 



■ff" 



A CAMPAIGN IN BALUCHISTAN 

A fort so high that if the sky should try to have a look at 
its towers, the golden crown will fall from its head. 

I accompanied my father when he inspected 
it, and, even before the outer gate was entered, a 
steep ascent cut in the rock had to be traversed. 
The outside wall, which rose above us to a great 
height, was passed by means of a gate fit for 
Rustam's house; but, to my surprise, we only 
entered a narrow lane, and saw a second wall 
even higher than the first, rising up almost out 
of sight. 

After proceeding for some distance we saw 
vast stables, and then entered the main part of 
the fort by an equally formidable gate up a still 
steeper incline. Passing the rows of great 
cannon, we had yet a still harder climb through 
a subterranean passage to the summit of the 
fort, where the sleepless commander kept watch 
and ward. 

Here we were shown a well, dug by the king 
of the Divs at the order of the great Rustam, 
who vanquished them. Close by was a set of 
rooms, opening in every direction, and known as 
a Chahar Fasl or " Four Seasons," where break- 
fast was served. 

I rejoiced at seeing this, as I had been 
frightened and my head had turned round from 
awe of this stronghold ; but soon 1 felt happy 
and proud that the Shah, may Allah make his 

21 



THE SHIA WORLD 

reign eternal ! possessed such a fort, which the 
savage Baluchis see from their lairs in their 
naked deserts, and tremble at the majesty and 
might of Nasir-u-Din Shah, the Sun of Kings, 
the Ornament of the Country, and the Pride of 
the Crown and Throne. 

My father, who had twice before travelled 
in Baluchistan, pointed out the peak of Kuh-i- 
Bazman, distant some forty farsakhs;^ but so 
high is it, and withal of so elegant a shape, that 
there is no mountain in Persia to equal it in 
beauty. They say that, on its summit, is a 
shrine to Khedr or Khizr,^ he who guides the 
steps of the wayfarer ; but few among mortals 
have ascended there. Indeed, as only Baluchis, 
who climb like goats, could scale the peak, which 
resembles a sugar loaf, I cannot vouch for the 
accuracy of this statement ; but, at any rate, by 
them the peerless mountain is termed Kuh-i- 
Khedr-i-Zinda, or "The hill of the Living 
Khedr." 

Perhaps, O my readers, you are not acquainted 
with the story of how Khizr was deputed by 
Allah the Omnipotent to instruct the prophet 
Musa or Moses. For he, being lifted up with 
pride at his own knowledge and wisdom, asked 
of Allah whether there was any one in the world 

^ A/arsakh is about four miles. 
2 Khedr is the Arabic, and Khizr the Persian form. 

22 



A CAMPAIGN IN BALUCHISTAN 

wiser than himself. Allah reprehended him 
for his vanity, and acquainted him with the fact 
that Khizr was wiser than he was ; and bade him 
to go to a place where the two seas meet. 

There he found Khizr and said unto him, 
"Shall I follow thee, that thou may est teach 
me part of that which thou hast been taught?" 
But Khizr replied, "Verily thou canst not bear 
with me: for how canst thou patiently suffer 
those things, the meaning whereof thou dost not 
comprehend ? " 

However, Musa begged him and Khizr 
agreed, on the condition that no questions 
should be asked until he himself explained his 
reasons. 

So they both went to the sea shore and 
entered into a ship, in which Khizr made a hole. 
To this Musa objected, saying, " Hast thou made 
a hole therein to drown those on board ? " Khizr 
rebuked Musa, who excused himself for breaking 
the agreement. 

They then left the ship and proceeded by 
land until they met a youth, whom Khizr 
immediately slew. This again aroused Musa 
to remonstrate, and Khizr answered that they 
must separate, but that first he would explain 
his acts. 

The vessel, he said, belonged to certain poor 
men who gained their living by the sea ; and he 

23 



THE SHIA WORLD 

had made it unserviceable because there was a 
king behind them, whose emissaries were seizing 
every sound ship. As to the youth, his parents 
were true believers, whereas he was an un- 
believer ; and so he was killed to save his parents 
suffering from his perverseness and ingratitude. 
' Finally, he said, " 1 did not what thou hast 
seen of mine own will, but by the direction of 
Allah." 

We left Bam early one morning and the 
whole town accompanied us for Sifarsakh on the 
road, many of the women weeping as if their 
husbands were already dead, so evil a reputation 
does Baluchistan bear. As the Arab poet 
wrote : 

O Allah, seeing Thou hast created Baluchistan, 
What need was there of conceiving Hell ? 

For two stages, however, we travelled through 
delightful jungles full of game, and how I 
enjoyed being allowed to ride near my father, 
and to shoot at the francolin as they rose out 
of the thickets. Indeed I thought that if 
Baluchistan was at all like Narmashir, it was a 
delightful country. 

However, on the fourth day after leaving 
Bam, the jungle suddenly ended, and we looked 
across such a sterile, naked desert that my gall- 
bladder felt as if it had burst. Indeed, even at 
the first stage the supply of water was the greatest 

24 



A CAMPAIGN IN BALUCHISTAN 

difficulty, as my father had arranged for 700 
camels to carry forage and provisions ; but to 
cross fiSiy farsakhs of desert where there is only 
a small well at each stage is very difficult. 

In fact, that night there was a quarrel 
between the Narmashir sowars and my father's 
servants, which nearly became serious ; but His 
Excellency heard of it and, when he came up, 
every one stopped fighting. As they say : 

When the lion appears, the jackal is silent. 

For ten days we crossed the dry, empty 
desert, and although we never saw a human 
being, there was no fear of our losing the way, as 
every mile we rode we passed the dead body of 
a camel or of a donkey. Occasionally, too, we 
saw the corpses of men whose strength had 
failed them between the wells. 

However, everything at last comes to an end, 
and, when we sighted in the distance the thick 
jungle which grows on the banks of the Bampur 
river, we forgot all about the Baluchis and 
thought that we had reached the garden of 
Shaddad.^ 

My father, like the man of experience he 
was, gave orders that a strong party of sowars 
should go ahead at early dawn in three parallel 
bodies, as he feared an ambush ; and this was 

^ A legendary garden lost to human gaze. 

25 



THE SHIA WORLD 

very fortunate, as one of the parties of sowars 
under Colonel Mohamed Ali Khan, seeing no 
signs of the enemy, went down to the river 
and watered their horses without taking any 
precautions. 

The Baluchis, however, were in ambush, and 
fired on them, killing and wounding twenty men, 
and had not the other two parties come to the 
rescue there would have been a disaster. My 
father was so angry with the colonel that that 
night he ate ^ five hundred sticks and was ill for 
weeks afterwards. 

We halted for some days at Kuchgardan to 
rest the troops, whom my father encouraged 
daily to distinguish themselves by addressing 
them, and by having passages read from the 
Shah Nama^ in which the exploits of all the 
heroes of Iran are recounted ; and, by Allah ! 
were all Persian generals like His Excellency, 
no army would ever stand before the victorious 
troops of the Shah. 

While we were halting at this stage, Nawab 
Khan, Bamari, and his tribe, who alone of 
Baluchis are Shias, and who are thus loyal to 
the Shah, joined our camp, and informed His 
Excellency that Sirdar ^ Husein Khan, Nahrui, 
who was the leader of the Baluchis, was camped 

^ To '^eat sticks" is to receive the bastinado. 
^ Sirdar is a title signifying a high chief in Baluchistan. 

26 



A CAMPAIGN IN BALUCHISTAN 

a farsakh from Bampur fort, and was, like all 



Baluchis, quite careless at night He thus 
advised that he should be surprised in the dark. 
My father, however, like Iskandar Zulkarnain,^ 

' Sc. Alexander the Great. Zuikamain siguifiea " Lord of two 
horns," an epithet implyiug might. 



THE SHIA WORLD 

replied that he would not steal a victory ; and 
indeed he sent Sirdar Husein Khan a stern 
message, to the effect that either he and his men 
must come immediately with their hands bound 
and throw themselves at his feet, or else, within 
three days, their bodies would become food for 
the crows and kites. Within a few hours came 
back the reply that the Sirdar was awaiting the 
honour of receiving a guest ! 

My father, who knew that the Baluchis 
would try to ambush his army, as they had 
done successfully before in the case of two 
Persian forces, decided to ambush the ambus- 
caders. 

He therefore arranged that the infantry and 
artillery with the baggage should march along 
the main road through the jungle under Suliman 
Khan, while he himself with the sowars left the 
camp at night, and, after marching towards Bam 
for a short distance, took a wide detour and 
formed an ambush close to where the main body 
would pass. 

In the morning his spies reported that the 
whole force of the Baluchis was in ambush, 
exactly las he had anticipated ; and very soon 
shooting was heard and cries of alarm from the 
main body, which was being attacked. 

My father then mounted Raksh,^ his great 

^ The name of Rustam's famous charger. 

28 



» » 



. • • 



A CAMPAIGN IN BALUCHISTAN 

war-horse, and, turning round, his face was so 
terrible with his eyes blood-red, that I felt that 
to be killed by Baluehis was nothing to arousing 
my father's wrath. In short, that face inspired 
us all to become devotees of death, and, charging 
through the jungle, we fell on the Baluehis, who 
felt sure that this, the third Persian army, was 
already their prey. 

I followed behind my father, and saw him 
with one stroke cut the son of the Sirdar into 
two pieces, just as Amir,^ on him be peace ! cleft 
Marhab of Khaybar with his famous sword, 
Zulfikar. 

This sight threw the enemy into a panic and 
they all rushed to their riding camels, for Baluehis 
always fight on foot. Nawab Khan, however, 
had already seized the camels, and so their only 
hope was to scatter and hide like rats ; and this 
they did, being chased by the victorious Persians, 
who did not slacken the pursuit until their horses 
fell from fatigue and their sword-hilts stuck to 
their hands. 

My father offered ten thousand tomans for 
the head of the rebellious Sirdar ; but he escaped 
towards Rudbar, and it was not until a month 
later that it was reported that he had died of 
his wounds in the desert. Thus may Allah 

^ Amir is the title by which Ali is referred to by Shias^ signifyiDg 
thereby that he is the commander of the Faithful. 

31 



THE SHIA WORLD 

destroy all rebels against the ever -victorious 
Shah! 

In the evening we rode on to Bampur, but 
it was not until we drew quite close that the 
gates were opened and a handful of fever-stricken 
shadows tottered out to welcome us. One of 
these was Haji Sohrab Khan, the lion-hearted 
defender, whom my father at first did not 
recognise. When he knew who he was he 
threw himself off his horse and embraced him, 
and all of us wept to hear that only fifty men 
of the garrison of six hundred were alive, and 
that, had the dogs of Baluchis assaulted the fort, 
instead of merely blockading it, a calamity would 
have occurred. 

My father ordered the camp to be pitched 
outside the fort ; and I remember with dread 
how, without even washing his hands, which 
were reeking with blood, he ordered food to be 
served without delay. 



In a month the justice of my father had 
drawn the Baluch Sirdars to his footstool, and 
they represented that they had been led astray 
and now repented deeply. His Excellency 
replied, " Allah forgives the repentant sinners " ; 
and as he saw that their hearts were as water, 
and that they would not rebel again, he showed 

32 



A CAMPAIGN IN BALUCHISTAN 

condescension to tliem and forgave them their 
wickedness. 

At the same time he took hostages from 
every tribe, and thus, with increased dignity, 
enhanced reputation, and great honour, he 
returned to Kernian, where the Vakil-ul-Mulk 
treated him as his son, and the Shah lionoured 
him with the high title of Shuja-u-Saltana or 
"The Champion of the State"; and Allah 
knows that this title was befitting, and its 
bestowal proved that the Shah was ever on the 
look-out to reward valour and zeal displayed in 
the royal service. 



CHAPTER III 

A PEKSIAX ENTERTAINMENT 

Brinic wine ! let first the hand of Hafiz 
'ITie cheery cup embrace ! 

Yet only upon one condition- 
No word beyond this place ! 

About a month after our return from the war 
in Balucliistan, His Excellency the Vakil -ul- 
Mulk informed my father that he would honour 
him by being his guest at luncheon on the 
following Friday. 

This information threw the entire household 
into a state of great excitement ; and when it 
is remembered that the Vakil-ul-Mulk never 
honoured a Khan with an escort of less than 
three hundred sowars, apart from the nobles of 
the province who were in attendance, and who 
also had their retinues, it may be understood 
that even to provide accommodation for so 



:FK III 

.■! 1.1'IAINMENT 

■r -1 ,- IimikI oC Hati/ 



.\ ■, . - /, . ■.':\ iill'T in:r return fnnii tlie wur 
:■ ;■..■.■,,^^!.■nl. IIi^ K^o-ilcncy tlie Viikil-ul- 
■'! ■!■. ■■'■'inifii ii(\ l:iTlicr Lli;it he would lionour 
l.iiii !)v Itcing his g-iicst at luiK-lnrir! on the 
toliiiwiiig Frkhiy. 

This iiiturniiitioii tlirew tht- etHi ■■ limisehiild 
iiiti) a state of f^reat cx(il(.-!''c..t , ami wlien it 
is rememberecl that thi: \ ■'■■■\ -r' MiMk iievor 
honoured a Klia.-i ivi'h :>■! ■ ■ ■ ; !'-,s tliaii 
tliree liundred si.uar--. : ■■ -■ ' ■ .' i:.!l)les of 

tlie provitice «hi' v-'-r ■. ■ ■ and ivlio 

also had tlieir h ;.■■■ * ; ■■ '<;n'i;slood 

tliat even tu jircv,!- ;■■ ■•■ ■■ fnr so 






• • • 









• • ^"« • 



• • • S" • • 



• • • • • • • 



• • • 
•• • • 



>• • • 






• • • • • • 



A PERSIAN ENTERTAINMENT 

many people and forage for so many horses was, 
in itself, a heavy task ; and that heavy task was 
■laid on me. 

However, thanks be to Allah, the garden at 
Mahun was fitted to receive even such a distin- 
guished guest as the Vakil-ul^Mulk ; and, since 



it is one of the famous gardens of Persia, itself a 
land most famous for gardens, it is right that I 
should describe its beauties to you. 

We Persians, whenever possible, build our 
gardens on a gentle slope ; and the garden I am 
describing was so constructed that two streams 
of crystal-like water met in front of the building 
and formed an immense lake, on the surface of 



THE SHIA WORLD 

which numerous swans, geese, and ducks dis- 
ported themselves. 

Below this lake there were seven waterfalls, just 
as there are seven planets ; and below these again 
there was a second lake of smaller dimensions, 
and a superb gateway decorated with blue tiles. 

Perhaps the reader may think that this was 
all ; but no, not only in the lakes, but also be- 
tween the waterfalls, jets of water spouted up 
into the air so high that the falling spray re- 
sembled masses of diamonds. And often, when 
reclining in the beautiful tiled room, the plash 
of the jets of water and the murmur of the 
stream hurrying down the terraced garden be- 
tween rose bushes, backed by weeping willows, 
planes, acacias, cypresses, and every other de- 
scription of tree, have moved me strangely ; and 
I have wept from pure joy, imd have then been 
lulled to sleep by the overpowering sense of 
beauty and the murmur of the running water. 
By Allah ! I think, indeed, that this garden is not 
surpassed in beauty by even that famous garden 
mentioned in the Koran : * 

The garden of Iram, adorned with lofty pillars : 

The like of which had not been created in the world. 

On the appointed day, one hour before noon, 
my father, his chief officers and myself, duly 
met the Vakil-ul-Mulk at the main gate. His 
Excellency was in a truly good humour, and, in 

36 






A PERSIAN ENTERTAINMENT 

reply to my father's welcome and assurance that 
'* the garden was a gift to him," replied that he 
regarded him as his own son. To this my father, 
with proud humility, answered " I am a slave 
born in your family." His Excellency next said 
that he had heard a good report of me, which 
made me hang my head from modesty. 

Accompanied by the nobles, the Vakil-ul- 
Mulk walked along the edge of the lake with 
great dignity and very slowly, for, in Persia, only 
Europeans and men of low extraction walk 
quickly. He then ordered some bread to be 
brought, and fed the swans for quite a long time, 
while we stood waiting in attendance. 

At length His Excellency entered the chief 
room alone, and we all stood respectfully outside 
by the open windows. 

Opposite the cushions, on which the Vakil-ul- 
Mulk reclined, were two large trays full of 
sweetmeats prepared in the women's apart- 
ments. Among these were toffee, almond paste, 
" elephant's ears " in pastry, burnt almonds, sugar 
drawn as fine as hair, and many other delicious 
sweetmeats which are only made in Iran. 
There was also a box of manna from Isfahan. 
Between the trays of sweetmeats was a silver tray, 
on which was spread an exquisitely fine shawl, 
worth at least two hundred tomans* ^ ; and on 

1 A toman is worth four shillings and a kran is one-tenth of a toman. 

SI 



THE SHIA WORLD 

the shawl was a sealed packet, containing two 
hundred ashrajis or gold pieces. 

The Vakil-ul-Mulk tasted the sweetmeats, 
and, looking at the jets of water shining in the 
sun and the lovely garden, repeated : 

If there is a Paradise on the face of the earth : 
It is this, it is this, it is this. 

His Excellency then invited his Vizier and 
my father to enter by a nod of the head ; 
and, in the same manner, he dismissed the 
nobles and his attendants, who were shown 
by me to the different rooms prepared for them, 
as the chief servants all have their separate staffs, 
and so have to sit in separate rooms. 

The Vakil-ul-Mulk again tasted the sweet- 
meats, and especially praised the toffee and also 
the manna which, with quails, formed the food 
of the Beni Israel ^ during the forty years they 
wandered in the deserts ; and my father bowed 
low to express his gratitude. 

Tea was then served, and the special water 
pipe of the Vakil-ul-Mulk, of beaten gold studded 
with turquoises, for which Iran is famous, was 
brought in. 

After pulling at it in silence for a minute. 
His Excellency inquired from his chief waiter 
where he had procured such excellent tobacco ; 
and that official replied that it was given by my 

^ Sc, the children of Israel. 
38 



mm 



A PERSIAN ENTERTAINMENT 

father who, to grace the auspicious occasion, had 
bought up a stock that had reached Kerman on 
the previous day from Shiraz. He added that 
my father had suppUed a large quantity of this 
tobacco if he might accept it. His Excellency 
said it was not needed ; but finally accepted the 
gift, and my father afterwards gave the servant 
a handsome sum of money for his friendly 
behaviour. 

After a while, my father represented that 
luncheon was ready to be served, and went into 
the adjoining room to superintend the spreading 
of the table-cloth, which is made of red Hamadan 
leather and covered with chintz. 

The waiters of the Vakil -ul-Mulk, however, 
declined to spread the cloth without orders from 
the chief of the Private Apartments, who equally 
declined to pay any attention until the whispered 
promise of a gift made him energy personified. 

On the edge of the cloth twelve flat loaves of 
very white flour were placed ; and there were 
huge trays of plain rice boiled as only it is boiled 
in Persia, with the savoury browned parts, flanked 
by other mounds of rice, in which the flesh of 
lambs and chickens with raisins, almonds, and 
saffron were all skilfully blended. 

The bowls of broth, the dishes of meat 
cooked in pomegranate or lime juice, or with 

walnuts, were smaller, and were placed in an 

39 



THE SHIA WORLD 

outer line, together with cheese, curds, vege- 
tables, and preserved fruits. 

At length all was ready, down to the price- 
less china bowls of sherbet, in which floated the 
translucent spoons of Abadeh in a mass of 
crushed ice, sherbet alone being drunk in public ; 
and the Vakil- ul-Mulk, on being informed that 
the luncheon was served, rose from his cushion 
and, walking to the next room,' seated himself in 
the place of honour. 

After having partaken of some food with a 
good appetite. His Excellency gave orders that 
the Vizier and my father should be sent for. 
They appeared, bowed low, and were honoured 
by being invited to join the Governor- General, 
whereupon they sat down very respectfully in 
the lowest place. This was, in truth, a great 
distinction for my father, as His Excellency 
always sat down alone to meals, not even per- 
mitting his sons to partake of food in his 
presence. 

Kabobs of gazelle were brought in, wrapped 
up in a piece of bread to keep them hot ; and 
His Excellency said that it was not necessary to 
ask who had shot it. 

The repast was eaten almost in silence ; and 
so large were the mounds of food that they 
seemed almost intact when, after tasting a 
Natanz pear preserved in syrup, and praising its 

40 



A PERSIAN ENTERTAINMENT 

flavour, the Vakil-ul-Mulk called for the jug and 

basin, with which he washed his hands and beard, 

for you must know that we Persians not only 

sit on our knees, but, like the Prophet, on Him 

be Peace, eat with our fingers, rolling together 

our rice into balls and then inserting them with 

our thumbs into the mouth. 

In later years I once saw an English officer 

try to do this, but we all agreed that he ate just 

like a tiger, and that only Persians could eat, in 

this fashion, in a refined manner ; also we know 

by experience that food eaten with the hand is 

of a better flavour, and that it is impossible to 

satisfy the appetite if knife and fork be used. 

After this the Vakil-ul-Mulk retired with his 
most confidential servant for a siesta, and then, 
and not until then, was the sealed packet of gold 
coins opened and the shawl examined. His 
Excellency reclined on a cushion embroidered 
with pearls, on which was placed a large pillow 
and a second very small one, stuff*ed with swan's 
down, brought from the province of Sistan. A 
thin silk coverlet kept off* the flies. 

The confidential servant, when his master had 
composed himself to sleep, went out, gently 
closed the door, and lay down outside ready to 
be in attendance when summoned. 

In less than an hour a cough announced the 
awakening of the Governor-General, who again 

41 



f -«o-m.^vi«i m, I 



THE SHIA WORLD 

washed his hands and face, and carefully combed 
his majestic beard, his moustaches, his eyebrows, 
and even his black eyelashes. He then arose, 
proceeded to the chief room, and, sending for 
the Khans and his attendants, said that, as it was 
too hot to go outside, he wished every one to sit 
down. After this he ordered tea to be served. 

The conversation turned on allusion, in which 
Persians excel, and the Vakil- ul-Mulk himself, 
who was in a remarkably good humour, and did 
not order a single servant to eat sticks that day, 
told us of how Mahmud of Ghazni requited 
Firdausi, the author of the greatest poem in the 
world, so inadequately, that the poet wrote a 
famous satire on him which runs : 

Long years this Shahnatna I toiled to complete, 

That the King might award me some recompense meet. 

But naught save a heart wrung with grief and despair 

Did I get from those promises empty as air ! 

Had the sire of the King been some Prince of renown. 

My forehead had surely been graced by a crown ! 

Were his mother a lady of high pedigree. 

In silver and gold had I stood to the knee ! 

But, being by birth not a prince but a boor. 

The praise of the noble he could not endure ! 

Fearing retribution, Firdausi wisely fled some 
days before the satire was delivered, and ulti- 
mately took refuge with the Sipahbud of Tabari- 
stan, who was the only prince of Persian descent 
reigning in Persia, which was then unhappily 
divided into separate principalities. 

42 



: ••• 


* • 

• • 


• 
• 


? •: 


• • 

• • 




• • 
• • 


• 
• 




• • 

• • 

• • 


•*• ••.•*•/: 


•••••* 


• 


• 


. ••• 


••• • *c* • >i 


. . •• 


• 


• 


•* • 


• • • » •• • 


••• : 


• 
• 


• • • * 



A PERSIAN ENTERTAINMENT 

Sultan Mahmud was so furious when he read 
the satire that he fainted from excess of anger. 
He then sent messengers with copies of the 
poet's portrait to every court to inquire whether 
Firdausi was there, and on finding that he had 
taken refuge in Tabaristan, he wrote to the 
Sipahbud demanding the surrender of the poet, 
and ended his letter by threatening that, if his 
desire were not complied with, he would come 
with his war elephants and trample the country 
beneath their feet. 

The Sipahbud^ who was prepared to defend 
his guest to the death, sent back the Sultan's 
letter and merely wrote "Aim" on the back. 
Mahmud was too ignorant to understand 
what this meant and was utterly amazed ; but 
one of his Persian courtiers at once explained 
that by " Aim " the Sipahbud intended to remind 
the Sultan of the fate of Abraha the Abyssinian, 
who, also relying on war elephants, invaded 
Mecca in the very year of the Prophet's birth ; 
but Allah the All-wise did he not cause flocks 
of birds to pelt them with pellets of baked clay 
so that they were discomforted ? He added 
that the " Chapter of the Elephant " began with 
"Aim." When Sultan Mahmud understood 
this matter he trembled, and his threat remained 
unfulfilled. 

For a long while every one was silent, and 

43 



THE SHIA WORLD 

then the conversation turned to the politeness of 
Persians, and Husein Ali Khan said that when 
he was an attendant at the foot of the throne of 
Mohamed Shah there was a great dispute with 
the Minister of France because the Governor of 
Shiraz had, so he averred, seized a large sum of 
money, twenty thousand tomans, belonging to a 
French merchant, whereas that trustworthy 
official explained that he had merely taken 
charge of it to save it from Kashgai robbers. 

In any case, at the fete hi honour of the birth 
of the Shah, when the Chief Vizier gave a 
banquet, the Minister refused to be among 
the guests unless this sum were paid ; and this 
abstention being reported to Mohamed Shah, 
that exalted monarch was displeased. 

Finally, the noble Vizier not only paid the 
money from his private purse, but, greeting the 
Minister of France with exquisite urbanity, he 
said: "Your Excellency, this banquet has cost 
me twenty thousand tomans ; but I would gladly 
have paid double the sum for the pleasure of 
entertaining the Minister of France." Hearing 
this, we felt that it was in Persia alone that 
such noble, high-souled ministers were born ; 
and we all thanked Allah that we were Iranis. 

The Commander-in-Chief then said that, not 
only in allusion and in politeness were Persians 
far ahead of all other nations, but that in 

44 



A PERSIAN ENTERTAINMENT 

astuteness there was no other people even 
second to them. 

In proof of this, he told us that on one occa- 
sion he had to pay his regiment about ten tomans a 
man ; but, owing to his misfortunes, he had only 
a hundred tomans instead of the necessary five 
thousand. However, astuteness came to his 
aid, and he paid every man his due, made him 
seal his receipt, and then, as he passed into an 
outer room, the money was taken from him and 
returned. In short, after paying away five 
thousand tomans^ he had still a hundred tomans 
left. At hearing this every one laughed, and the 
Vakil-ul-Mulk called the Commander-in-Chief a 
blackguard ; but only in jest. 

Shaykh Ahmad then said that he knew 
of yet another story connected with Sultan 
Mahmud, who, the son of a slave, rose to be a 
mighty monarch and thirsted for a title from the 
Caliph. He sent a large gift to the Caliph, 
but nothing for his Vizier, who was, of course, a 
Persian, and who, in drawing up the order, gave 
instructions that Mir should be written instead 
of Amir. 

Now Mir means a chief, but also a slave ; so 
Mahmud was furious at this insult, until a 
Persian courtier explained to him that the 
"A"^ which was omitted conveyed a delicate 

^ AH/ or A siguifies one thousand. 

47 



THE SHIA WORLD 

hint that he had not sent one tho.usand gold 
coins to the Vizier ; but that, if the order were 
returned with that sum, no doubt apologies 
would be made and a fresh order, written as 
His Majesty desired, would be sent. And so, 
by Allah, it turned out ; and thus was Sultan 
Mahmud educated by clever Iranis. 

Abu Turab Khan represented that he could 
give a case which had happened only a few years 
ago at the court of the Vakil-ul-Mulk, but that he 
would not dare to mention it without permission. 
His Excellency was very curious to hear the 
story, and agreed to pardon the Klmn^ who said 
that, three years ago, a Tehran merchant came 
down to examine into the accounts of his agent, 
who had been in charge of his land for ten years 
and who had embezzled thousands of tomans. 

But this agent was very clever, and so he 
paid the chief executioner two hundred tomans 
to come secretly to the Tehrani the morning 
after his arrival, and whisper in his ear that 
orders had just come by telegram to the Vakil- 
ul-Mulk for him to be thrown into chains and 
sent back to Tehran. 

This so alarmed Aga Hadi that he too paid 
the chief executioner two hundred tomans and, 
mounting his horse, he rode off and never returned 
to Kerman ! 

Hearing this, the Vakil-ul-Mulk rolled on the 

48 



A PERSIAN ENTERTAINMENT 

ground, helpless with laughter. He then called 
for the chief executioner and asked him if this 
were true, and finally it was acknowledged. 
"Blackguard," screamed the Vakil- ul-Mulk, and 
again rolled over. 

" By Allah ! " quoth he, " how fast Aga Hadi 
must have ridden, and how tired such a fat man 
as he is must have been I " 

It was now two hours to sunset, and His 
Excellency exclaimed, "Bismillah! let us go." 
Everything was in a tumult, all the chief servants 
shouting out their orders ; but by the time His 
Excellency had walked slowly past the lake to 
the great gate, his carriage was ready, guarded 
by three hundred sowars ; and, preceded by 
mounted attendants bearing silver maces, who 
shouted out to clear the road, the stately cortdge 
disappeared in a cloud of dust on the road to 
Kerman. 




FROM A BRONZE MIRROR 



CHAPTER IV 



AN AWFUL TRAGEDY 



And Bahrain, that great Hunter — the wild Ass 
Stamps o*er his Head, but cannot break his Sleep. 

Omar Khayyam. 

My father was renowned as a hunter even in 
Iran, where hunting has been the chief pastime 
of its monarchs and nobles from the days of Kei 
Khusru^ down to the present day. In this 
connection it is well known that courtiers who 
exhibited special courage and skill in the chase 
were always sure to attract the eye of favour of 
their monarch. I have heard it stated that 
" hunting is a business for the idle " ; but those 
who really understand are aware that hundreds 
of secrets for the government of kingdoms are 
hidden in this art. 

After having ruled Mahun for many years, 
my father was very glad to be appointed 
Governor of Sirjan. This district, apart from 

^ Persians, quite incorrectly, believe that Kei Khusru was Cyrus 
the Great. Actually he belongs to Indo-Persian legend. 

50 



AN AWFUL TRAGEDY 

its great extent, is always entrusted to a most 
capable official, owing to its ' situation on the 
borders of Fars, where the tribesmen are raiders 
by nature and require watching by day and 
night. 

Dividing Sirjan from Fars is a great salt 
swamp which is very dangerous, except to those 
who know it well ; but as it is also a favourite 
haunt of the gazelle and of the wild ass, my 
father was perhaps more pleased at that fact 
than at anything else, little knowing that Hafiz 
prophesied truly in his case when he wrote : 

This far-off desert is the stage. 

In which the armies of Salm and Tur disappeared. 

I well recollect the journey to Saiidabad, the 
capital, over a high range where we rode in every 
direction in search of partridges. Our sowars 
spread out on each side of the track for a /ar^aM, 
and, as partridges only fly a short distance, they 
were shot in large numbers or seized by falcons, 
of which His Excellency kept a large number. 
To see the intrepidity with which the sowars 
galloped up and down steep mountains and 
shot hares and even partridges at full speed 
would prove to any one that the Persian sowar 
has no equal. 

On the borders of Sirjan, many of the leading 
Khans met us, and at Saiidabad the reception 
party included every one in the capital, from the 

51 



THE SHIA WORLD 

great landowners and merchants to the beggars 
and little children. 

The house of the Governor was very large 
with a fine garden ; but it was in such a 
dilapidated condition that, at first, we lived in 
tents in the garden while it was being prepared 
for our reception : indeed, I recollect my father 



stating that he had to spend a large sum on 
repairing it. 

A few weeks after our arrival it was decided 
to go on a shooting expedition ; and I was 
allowed to join the party on a well-trained horse. 
As soon as we were clear of the town and had 
reached the open country, our sowars spread out, 
two and two, leaving an interval of about five 
hundred yards between each couple, until the 



■4 1. ^ f" ■ ■ ■ I. 



AN AWFUL TRAGEDY 

whole plain was covered. In the centre my 
father, Aga Ali, his chief gunbearer, and myself 
rode, and, on both sides of us, the line of sowars 
was slightly thrown forward like a crescent 
moon. 

We proceeded slowly in this manner for 
perhaps a farsakh, when suddenly Aga Ali 
whose eyes were like those of a hawk, espied a 
herd of seven gazelles which were grazing a long 
way ahead of us. When they, in time, sighted 
us they threw up their heads and galloped off, 
while we continued on exactly as before. 

This went on for half a hour when, suddenly, 
the gazelles, which do not like leaving their 
grazing ground, stopped, turned round, and 
galloped between my father and Mohamed 
Mehdi Khan, who was on his left. At first the 
two groups moved slowly on inclining inwards ; 
but, when it was clear that the gazelles had made 
up their minds and were flying like the wind, 
both parties galloped to cut them off. So 
successful were they that the gazelles passed 
within fifteen yards of my father who, with his 
number ten gun, loaded with slugs, shot two of 
them. 

Imitating him, by throwing my reins on to 
the neck of my horse, I also shot a gazelle, which 
much pleased my father, who shouted, '' Thanks 
be to Allah ! The lion's whelp will be like its 

5S 



THE SHIA WORLD 

sire." I was so elated at hearing this from my 
father, who scarcely ever spoke to me, that my 
head turned round. Aga Ali, too, who had 
taught me to throw down my reins and to 
always turn in the saddle when shooting, a feat 
no European has ever learned, paid my father 
many compliments, and was promised a gift of a 
hundred tomans. Such a Hatim Tai^ was my 
sire ! 

That night we camped near the swamp, and as 
sixteen gazelles had been shot, every one was 
much elated, and, round the fires, the ramrods 
of the rifles were covered with meat : indeed, 
Allah knows, I never tasted such delicious meat 
as that of the gazelle roasted in this fashion. 

Early next morning we started off to hunt the 
wild ass along the swamp, and both my father 
and myself took our rifles instead of our number 
ten guns. Now, you must know that the wild 
ass is easier to approach than the gazelle, if the 
swamp is hard enough for a horse to gallop on 
it, but yet soft enough for the hoofs of the wild 
ass, which are much smaller, to break through. 

We rode along as on the previous day, and, 
very soon after leaving camp, Aga Ali was the 
first to sight a large herd of wild asses, who 

^ Hatim Tai is the example in the East of a generous Arab 
chieftain. On one occasion having no food, he slew his famous mare 
to satisfy the hunger of a guest. 

54 



AN AWFUL TRAGEDY 

galloped oft' and then circled back to look at 
us, so curious are they. This they did three 
times and then tried to break through ; but they 
were turned towards the swamp, and soon sank 
in so much that we were able to ride up along- 



side them and shoot them quite easily ; in fact 
our rifles nearly touched them as we fired. 

Tliat night again every one was very happy, as 
the flesh of the wild ass is esteemed a great 
delicacy ; but, in my opinion, nothing is more 
delicate than the flesh of the gazelle. 

On another occasion we set out hawking, and 
when riding along, we saw an extraordinary 
white rock, shaped like an egg, rise out of 



THE SHIA WORLD 

the plain. My father asked Mohamed Mehdi 
-Khan what it was, as he was learned in these 
questions ; and he replied that, on this rock, 
known as "White Fort," were the ruins of 
a famous fortress, which was once the capital 



(DaUd A.D. 1387) 

of the province of Kerman. He added that it 
was a great show place and that there were many- 
sand partridges there. Moved by the hope of 
shikar my father said, " Bismillah, let us see 
this wonderful place." 

We rode to the rock and found the whole 
plain covered with the ruins of a mighty city. 
In one place was a beautiful pulpit of white 



AN AWFUL TRAGEDY 

stone; but everything else was in ruins. 
Riding up the steep white rock we found the 
remains of palaces, and also visited a great 
cave on _ the north side where the women, 
according to tradition, spent the heat of the day. 

Mohamed Mehdi Khan showed us every 
eorner, and said that Amir Timur's troops 
besieged the fort for three years, and then 
only captured it because the garrison had no 
supplies left, so strong was this fort. He 
added that, in memory of this siege, one of 
the hills, which he pointed out, is termed 
« The Throne of Timur " to this day. 

Two years were spent at Saiidabad in this 
fashion, hunting parties being so frequent that at 
last the game was almost all killed. During this 
period the robbers from Fars never raided into 
Sirjan from fear of my father, and also because 
they were ruled by a stern Governor-General, 
who, whenever he caught a brigand, ** plastered "^ 
him up as a terrible warning to his fellows. 

However, this stern ruler was dismissed, and 
his successor was so noted for his kindness of 
disposition, that, even before he reached Shiraz, 
the Lashanis prepared to raid Sirjan. 

Owing to the fact that there had been no 

^ Robbers are embedded in plaster up to their shoulders. Wheu 
it dries up^ it contracts^ and their sufferings are terrible ; but^ if 
l^iven food and water^ they frequently linger on for three or 
four days. 

57 



THE SHIA WORLD 

trouble for so many years, there was no watch 
kept, and we first realised what was occurring 
by seeing villages burning in the hills to the 
north of the capital just before sunset. As 
soon as this was noticed my father's face became 
terrible, and he swore that he would cut off 
the robbers and deal with them as the Governor- 
General of Fars had done. 

Well do I recollect the excitement and 
confusion which first occurred ; but yet, within 
half-an-hour, the whole party of two hundred 
sowars was ready to start. We moved at an 
amble, which pace is best for horses going 
a long distance, and when dawn broke we 
were approaching the main route across the 
morass. Upon reaching it, Aga Ali, who was 
famous for tracking, pointed out that about 
sixty horsemen had passed eastwards just a 
day before, but that there were no return tracks. 
However, he also pointed out that, as the swamp 
was dry at this season of the year, a second 
track across it to the north might well be used 
by the Lashanis on their return. 

This much disturbed my father, who had felt 
sure of cutting off the raiders ; and so he con- 
sulted for an hour while the horses were being 
fed, and we all lay in ambush in a grove of 
tamarisks, hoping for the return of the raiders 
who, however, never came. 

58 



AN AWFUL TRAGEDY 

It was finally settled by His Excellency, that 
he would take eighty of the best men and ride 
north so as to hold the second track ; and I was 
left with Aga Ali in charge of the main body. 

For the remainder of that day and the next 
we watched all in vain, until Aga Ali swore that 
the Lashanis had escaped, when, in the distance, 
we sighted one of our sowars, who rode up to me 
like a whirlwind, crying 

Dust on my head^ 
The Master is dead. 

He then fell off his horse in a faint 

At last he was able to tell his mournful tale, 
which was that my father and his party were 
approaching the northern track across the swamp, 
when they saw the Lashanis already on it, 
driving away cattle, sheep, and other plunder. 

Furious at this, and throwing prudence to 
the winds, my father rode straight across the 
morass to cut them off. One by one his sowars 
were left behind ; but my father pressed on 
until, just as he was near the track, his horse 
was engulfed in the bog. 

He made every effort to escape; but, mad 
with fear, the brute seized him with its teeth, 
tore him from the saddle, and threw him under 
its hoofs ; so that when, at last, two of the sowars 
came up, ready to help, there was only one arm 

59 



THE SHIA WORLD 

of my father remaining above the ooze, and the 
mad horse's head was sinking out of sight I 

A thousand boats have gone down into this whirlpool : 
And not a plank from them has reached the shore. 

Allah knows that I shall never forget the misery 



of that period, nor how my mother beat her head 

until she fell senseless, lamenting : 
As man in this land of thorns 
Reaps nothing but trouble and anxiety : 
Happy is he who leaves this world quickly. 
Or he who never enters it at all. 

Time, however, is the great teacher, and after a 
few days it was possible to look at the matter 



AN AWFUL TRAGEDY 

more calmly, and to feel some comfort and even 
pride in the thought that my father, a great 
hunter, when pursuing a nobler quarry than the 
wild ass, had met the same fate as the great 
hunter King, of whom Omar Khayyam wrote : 

Bahrain^ who, all his life, was capturing wild asses (Gur) : 
See how the grave (^Gur) has captured Bahrain.^ 

I have not hitherto referred to my uncle, 
Mirza Hasan Khan, who, by the kindness of 
the Vakil-ul-Mulk, may Allah keep cool his 
grave, was made a Mustavfi or Revenue Official 
in the Kerman province. Now my uncle was 
married, but Allah had not blessed his tree of 
hope with fruit; and perhaps it was on this 
account that he showed such kindness to the 
orphan, whose lot is frequently a hard one, as 
Shaykh Sadi writes : — 

Protect thou the orphan whose father is dead ; 

Brush the mud from his dress, ward all hurt from his head ; 

Thou know'st not how hard his condition must be ; 

When the root has been cut, is there life in the tree ? 

O see that he weep not, for surely God's throne 

Doth quake at the orphan's most pitiful moan I 

In short, my uncle was like an angel of 
benevolence to me, and, as soon as the heart- 
rending news reached Kerman, heedless of 

^ This is the literal translation of FitzGerald's lines as given in 
the heading to this chapter. There is a play on Gur, which signifies 
a wild ass and also the grave. The monarch was kuown as 
Bahrain Gur. 

61 



THE SHIA WORLD 

hunger and sleep, he rode down post to Saiidabad, 
and thereby ensured that the revenue my father 
had to collect was duly paid in. 

Moreover, he discharged all our debts and 
brought us to Kerman to his own house, and 
placed us under the shadow of his kindness. 

Do thou a kind act and throw it in the Tigris, 
And Allah will return it to thee in the desert. 

Like our illustrious ancestor, Haji Abul 
Hasan Khan, my father had always displayed 
liberality and generosity ; and my uncle found 
that, after paying up all we owed, nothing was 
left for me : 

It is better that a man leave a good name behind : 
Than to bequeath a decorated house. 

Fortunately, my mother had received as a 
dowry one- third of the village of Sar Asiab, 
which sufficed for her wants, and I felt that I was 
quite able to earn my living ; but exactly, in 
what manner, I did not know, as you cannot 
turn a knowledge of history and the capacity of 
a poet into a shoe and a hat. 

However, the day after our arrival at Kerman, 
my uncle spoke very kindly to me, and said that 
he regarded me as his son, and had decided to 
make me his assistant in the revenue department,* 
and, on the following day, I accompanied him to 
the Revenue Office of Kerman. 

62 



AN AWFUL TRAGEDY 

This most important department, on which 
the whole Government depends, was brought to 
the greatest perfection in Persia nearly a thousand 
years ago, by that great man, the Nizam- ul-Mulk, 
Vizier of Malik Shah, whose system is still in 
force to-day. Indeed, it is so perfect that no 
one except a Mustauji can fully understand it : 
and, as a result, the power and wealth of revenue 
officials is very gfeat. Indeed their power is, in 
some respects, above that of the local Governors, 
for when these latter came to Kerman to settle 
their revenue accounts, the Mustaufi in charge 
of each district was able to make all sorts of 
claims, and, as he had to give a certificate that 
the revenue had been paid in full, much bargain- 
ing went on until a sum was agreed upon, and 
then only was the certificate granted. 

To resume, I found the office to consist of a 
large room with beautiful carpets, where all the 
Mustaufis sat together, and apparently drank tea, 
smoked, and did nothing else. However, in this 
I was mistaken, for every now and then a youth 
whispered into the ear of one of them, who 
thereupon gave a whispered reply. This, as I 
soon found out, meant that a local Governor 
had made an offer to the Miistauji through his 
assistant, who had come to report. 

Shortly after I had taken up my post, I was 
approached by the confidential servant of the 



THE SHIA WORLD 

Governor of Jiruft, who offered six hundred 
tomans for his certificate, accompanied by many 
compliments to myself. This I reported to my 
uncle, who remarked smilingly, " Lessen the 
compliments and increase the money," and said 
that I was to reply that one thousand tomans 
was the lowest sum he would accept. For a 
week this bargaining went on and, at last, eight 
hundred tomans were paid, and also a present of 
fifty tomans to myself, about which I did not say 
anything to my uncle, as that was my perquisite. 
As I found that the revenue otiicials were 
all people of a noble disposition, who evinced 
much respect for my uncle, I soon became very 
happy at Kerman. Indeed, I found that I was 
able not only to master all the intricacies of the 
revenue system of Persia, but also to continue 
to study poetry, history, and geography. In 
short, I attained contentment, and as Shaykh 
Sadi writes : 

O soul ! if thou acquirest contentment, 

Thou wilt exercise sway in the kingdom of repose. 



CHAPTER V 

MY BETROTHAL AND MARRIAGE 

Now when once more the Night's smbrosiai dusk 
Upon the skirts of Day had poured its musk. 
In sleep an an^e) caused him to behold 
The heavenly gardens' radiancy untold. 
Whose wide expanse, shadowed by lofty trees. 
Was cheerful as the heart fulfilled of ease. 
Each flow' ret in itself a ((arden seemed. 
Each rosy petal like a lantern gleamed. 
Each glade reflects, like some sky. scanning eye, 
A heavenly mansion from the azure sky. 
like brightest emeralds its grasses grow, 
While its efl'ulgence doth no limit know. 
Goblet in hand, each blossom of the dale 
Drinks to the music of the nightingaie. 
Celestial harps melodious songs upraise, 
\Vhile cooing ring-doves utter hymns of praise. 

NizAtii's Laila and Majnun 

One day my uncle spoke to me with great kind- 
ness, and said that, as I was fully eighteen years 
of age, it was time that I thought of marriage. 
He then advised me not to prize beauty alone ; 
but rather to hope for a modest, pious, capable 
woman, who would speak little, but who would 
be economical, discreet, and prudent. "If thou 



THE SHIA WORLD 

marriest such a woman," he cried, ** she will be 
the prop and stay of thy existence." 

On the other hand, said he, as Sliaykh Sadi 
wrote : 

A bad woman in the liouse of a virtuous man is his hell, even 

in this world. 
Save us, O Lord, from this fiery trial ! 

My uncle finally quoted from the Sayings of 
the Prophet, "Second only to the benefit of 
believing the faith of Islam, is that of marrying 
a Mussulman wife, who rejoices the eyes of a 
man, obeys his wishes, and, during his absence, 
watches faithfully over his house and possessions." 

Upon hearing these words I was deeply 
moved, and was only able to reply : 

What objection can a servant raise ? 
It is for the Master to command. 

I then went off to the women's apartments, where 

my mother greeted me with a significant smile ; 

and I soon understood that she had been the 

instigator in this plot and that she had already 

been busy for some time in arranging a marriage 

for me. 

You do not perhaps know that, when a 

mother considers it time for her son to marry, 

she makes inquiries in every direction, by means 

of special agents who are generally old women, 

and when they hear of a girl who is handsome, 

6Q 



MY BETROTHAL AND MARRIAGE 

of a docile disposition, and of suitable family, 
she and a friend call upon her mother, who, when 
the subject is first broached, makes excuses, such 
as that the girl has been dedicated to a Sayyid} 

This, however, is merely to show that there 
is no undue haste, and, when the girl is asked to 
bring sugar and water, the object of the visit is 
formally announced. The girl retires, adorns 
herself, and then brings in water, which she 
presents to the visitors, who embrace her and 
examine her very closely. 

A long consultation, in which the girl has no 
part, now takes place, and all details are given 
on both sides, with much exaggeration, as to the 
character, qualities, and position of both the 
young people ; and the meeting is finally brought 
to a close by sweetmeats being handed round. 

After this, ingenuity is exercised by the 
women to gain a view of the proposed bride- 
groom, which is not difficult, as he can easily be 
seen riding or walking. For the youth to see 
his future bride is, however, quite incorrect ; 
but yet my mother had even arranged this. 
She had, after the first meeting, discussed the 
matter with her relations and friends, who knew 
both families and had again visited the house, 

^ If a girl be dangerously ill, her parents frequently vow that^ 
should she recover^ they will marry her to a Sayyid ; or if, at first 
they have been disappointed in their hopes of children, a similar 
vow is made. 

67 



THE SHIA WORLD 

and asked for sweetmeats, which is tantamount 
to stating that her side had agreed to the match. 
She also had arranged for a return visit to be 
paid by the girl's mother and my future bride, 
whose very name Shirin expressed sweetness, but 
who was ignorant of what was being settled. 

One day my mother informed me that they 
would pay their visit that afternoon, and that 
the girl would be seated in the lowest place in 
the party opposite the door. She added, "If 
you were to look into the room through a chink 
at that time, remember it would be most im- 
proper, and I should speak severely to you if I 
saw you." My mother again smiled and, as I 
understood her meaning, my emotions were so 
overpowering that I almost fainted. 

Allah knows what trouble I gave at the bath 
that day and how carefully I donned my best 
clothes, and how rakishly I placed a new kolah ^ 
on my head ; but, even so, I was ready long 
before the ladies came, and in my lovesick 
condition I kept repeating " Shirin ! Shirin ! " 

Say nought of the lusciousness candy contains, e'en sugar 

unmentioned may be ; 
For all, save the sugar possessed by thy lips, is wanting in 

savour to me. 

At last, two hours before sunset, I saw from 

^ The becoming head-gear of Persia is made of tlie skin of the 
unborn lamb, and costs about £4 if of good quality. 

68 



MY BETROTHAL AND MARRIAGE 

my hiding-place five ladies ^.rrive. The leading 
one was, I felt sure, my future mother-in-law, 
who, I had been told, would be accompanied by 
her sister. Then came a form which, in spite of 
the dark blue outer robe and white veil, I saw 
was like a cypress, with the gait of a pheasant ; 
and my heart revealed to me that it was my 
beloved. Two confidential female servants 
completed the party. 

I knew that if I looked into the room too 
soon the ladies would not have removed their 
outer robes or veils ; so I contained myself for a 
quarter of an hour, although it seemed to me 
like a year. 

At last, trembling like a willow branch, I 
quickly entered the women's apartments, and, 
hardly knowing what I did, instead of looking 
through the chink, I opened the door. As I did 
so, I met for one second the gaze of a houri with 
eyes like those of a gazelle, under eyebrows 
resembling a crescent moon. More than this I 
saw not, as a cry was raised and my beloved 
wrapped her robe round her and fled out of the 
room. 

My mother and the other ladies then asked 

me how I dared to enter an assembly of women, 

and I stood abashed for a minute and then shut 

the door, and as if in a dream retired to my room 

where my heart, wounded by the darts from 

69 



THE SHIA WORLD 

those eyes, kept me awake for the whole night, 
crying and tossing from side to side. 

Tell sleep not to enter my eyes any more. 
Because the island which was thy abode has been submerged 
in water. 

However, my mother and uncle were, all the 
time, working in my interests, and informed me 
that they had agreed that the bride should be 
given one-sixth of the village of Sar Asiab and 
one thousand tomans as a dowry, half of which 
was to be paid in cash before and half after the 
marriage ; also an agreement was made that the 
bride should never leave Kerman against her 
will. Indeed, the details of the agreement were 
so numerous that I cannot describe them. 

A few weeks later the betrothal took place. 
In the morning six large trays containing a fine 
Kerman shawl, a ring set with diamonds, a pair 
of gold earrings and much sugar, tea, and sweet- 
meats were sent to the bride's house. My 
Shirin was then adorned and the earrings were 
placed in her ears by a lady of distinction, who 
was blessed with a family of eighteen children, 
of whom fourteen were sons. General rejoicings 
then ensued, which, however, only the ladies of 
both families attended; and it may be understood 
how I yearned for the marriage to take place, 
although I now understand fully that such an 
important event should be carried out with due 

70 



MY BETROTHAL AND MARRIAGE 

delay so as to enhance the dignity of the pro- 
ceedings. 

Then, however, I was, I fear, Ul-tempered and 
peevish, and could only compose verses which I 
thought poor, but which are now held to be 
worth ten gold pieces a line, such as 

O Spring Cloud, discharge abundantly in the vineyard ; 
If a drop of rain become wine why should it be . wasted in 
forming a pearl ? ^ 

Or again my famous verse, in which the four 
elements are mentioned : 

^Vhen the morning breeze lifted the veil from thy face. 

It smote to the earth the honour possessed by the fire of 

, Zoroaster. 2 

Two months after the engagement the chief 
astrologer was called into consultation as to the 
auspicious day for the performance of the 
marriage ceremony ; and, having fixed upon three 
hours to sunset on the following Wednesday, 
intimation to this effect was sent to the father 
of the bride. 

On the day, a tray containing one hundred 

^ The Oriental believes that pearls are formed by the crystalliza- 
tion of drops of rain falling on the oyster. 

2 Ahru is literally " water of the face/' and thus the wind, the 
earth, water, and fire are all included. 

The first verse is by Danish, Meshedi, who received 100,000 
rupees as a reward from the son of Shah Jahan, the Moghul 
Emperor. Our author would reply to a charge of plagiarism that 
both he and Danish, by chance, had the same beautiful idea. This 
is termed Tmmrud or coincidence. 

71 



THE SHIA WORLD 

different varieties of drugs and herbs, with a 
mirror and ten yards of white sheeting to cover 
the bride during the ceremony, was sent to her 
home. The other gifts were two candlesticks, 
twenty pairs of shoes, and several trays contain- 
ing sweetmeats. All these matters are regulated 
by etiquette, so polished and civilised a people 
are we Persians. 

Four hours before sunset, after spending the 
day at the hammain^ during which time my hair 
and nails were beautifully dyed, we assembled in 
the great hall at the house of Ali Naki Khan, 
my future father-in-law, and were greeted by the 
relations of both families, the ladies, meanwhile, 
assembling in the women's apartments. 

Shirin, who on the previous day had visited 
the bath, had been, as she afterwards told me, 
placed on a saddle facing towards Mecca^ with 
all her garments untied, until the ceremony was 
completed Opposite my beloved were the 
mirror and the comb ; and, in front of the mirror, 
the two candlesticks were placed and lighted. 
The white sheet was draped over her head, and, 
when she was arrayed in all her wedding 
garments, my mother said that she resembled 
Bilkis, that queen of Sheba who visited Solomon 
the son of David. 

Meanwhile her mouth was filled with sweet- 
meats, and sugar dust was sprinkled over her head 

72 



MY BETROTHAL AND MARRIAGE 

by rubbing two pieces together. To increase 
her good fortune, a lady took a needle, threaded 
it with a thread made of seven coloured strands, 
and passed and repassed it through the white 
sheet which was draped over the head of the 
bride. This very ancient custom is never 
omitted. Finally, drugs were thrown into the 
fire until the atmosphere itself became amorous. 

The chief priest of Kerman, Aga Mohamed, 
who was related to my mother, performed the 
ceremony. When he took his seat among us, 
he called me to his presence and asked me if I 
authorised him to act as my agent. On receiv- 
ing my reply in the affirmative, he inquired who 
was the agent on behalf of Shirin, and on hearing 
that it was Shaykh AbduUa he had the d^-aft of 
the marriage deed, containing all the conditions, 
read out three times. 

Shaykh AbduUa thereupon proceeded to the 
curtained door of the women's apartments when, 
on his announcing his errand, Shirin, who re- 
quired much encouragement before she would 
speak, stated three times that she agreed to the 
marriage. After this, he returned and informed 
Aga Mohamed that Shirin had agreed to the 
marriage. Upon hearing this, the marriage was 
declared to have taken place; and congratula- 
tions were offered by all those present. 

At the termination of this ceremony I was 

75 



THE SHIA WORLD 

taken to the women's apartments, into the room 
where Shirin was sitting. She rose up to receive 
me and, as soon as I had placed my hand on her 
head as a token of my protection to her in the 
future, she tried to place her foot on mine ; but 
I, dexterously avoiding it, gently placed my 
foot on her foot. This ceremony is necessary, 
and whoever of the two places his or her foot on 
the foot of the other, will, we believe, continue 
to rule for life. 

We both saw the faces of each other reflected 
in the mirror, which had been placed in front of 
Shirin ; but I had to give her a handsome 
present in the shape of a pearl ring before I 
could secure to myself the pleasure of seeing her 
face in the mirror. It may be mentioned that, 
during the performance of this ceremony, all 
widows or twice married women, and all un- 
married girls, are rigidly excluded from among 
the ladies sitting round the bride, as their 
presence is sure to bring bad luck to her. 

Soon after the conclusion of the marriage 
ceremony I grew impatient, and began to trouble 
my mother with hints that the wedding should 
take place without delay ; but she put me off by 
saying that the ornaments and other wedding 
furniture had not yet been completed by the 
bride's parents, who had asked for a period of at 

least two months for these preparations. 

76 



MY BETROTHAL AND MARRIAGE 

Allah knows how 1 counted the days and 
nights ; and the moment that this period had 
elapsed, I again had it conveyed to my mother 
that she should hasten on the wedding ; and I 
represented that, unless she wished me to be- 
come as thin as Majnun,^ the famous lover, whom 
even the wild beasts pitied, she must use all her 
influence and not allow unnecessary delay : 

The nearer the time of meeting with the beloved approaches. 
The fiercer burns the flame of love. 

After declaring, for some days, that such 
haste was not correct, my mother understood 
that I was really beginning to waste away ; and, 
fortunately, just about this time, intimation was 
received from Shirin's mother that all the 
wedding furniture had been completed. My 
mother at once sent again for the chief astro- 
loger, and he fixed on the Friday night ^ as the 
most auspicious of auspicious times for the con- 
summation of the marriage. 

On the afternoon of that day the wedding 
gifts were sent from the bride's to my uncle's 
house, passing through the principal streets of 
the city ; and men and women thronged in 
hundreds in the streets and on their roofs to see 
and admire them. 

^ Majnun wasted away for the love of the famous Laila. 
2 According to lunar months the day begins at sunset. Thus 
Friday nighty by European calculation, would be Thursday night. 

77 



THE SHIA WORLD 

All the household furniture, such as cushions, 
pillows, velvet curtains embroidered in gold, 
lamps, candlesticks, copper and porcelain utensils, 
tea and coffee services, and other articles too 
numerous to mention, were carried on trays ; 
and carpets and boxes of clothes belonging to 
the bride were borne on gaily caparisoned mules, 
with bells round their necks and also swinging 
at their sides ; and, with all these things, the 
rooms set apart for the use of the bride were 
prepared for her reception. 

Feasting had been the order of the day both 
at my uncle's house and at the house of Ali 
Naki Khan for several days ; and I had spent 
part of the Thursday entertaining my friends at 
a hammam, which had been specially reserved for 
this purpose ; and, after giving gifts to the bath 
attendants who had shampooed me and dyed my 
hair and nails, I stepped forth, clad in a suit 
which my father-in-law had presented to me. 
This suit included a shirt made by the hand of 
Shirin from the white sheet which was draped 
over her head when the marriage ceremony was 
performed. 

At four hours after sunset, my uncle with 
our male relations and friends, proceeded to 
the bride's house, followed at a very short dis- 
tance by all our female relations, including mv 
mother, and preceded by lighted candles, lamps, 

78 



MY BETROTHAL AND MARRIAGE 

torches, and musicians ; fireworks too were 
let off. 

The men assembled in the hall, and the ladies 
were seated in the women's apartments, and 
sherbet was served, followed by tea and water 
pipes. My uncle then presented the completed 
marriage deed, which had been written out on 
paper, most beautifully decorated with gold and 
other colours, to the bride's father who took it 
to show to Shirin's mother. 

Meanwhile Shirin, too, had been to the 
harnmam^ where her hair and hands and feet were 
dyed, and her back carefully depilated to remove 
all traces of hair, as it is believed that there is a 
hair of the Angel of Death on a woman's back 
which, if allowed to remain, would bring ill luck 
to the family. After her return to the house, 
she was taken to a special room where her 
relations dressed her in her bridal clothes and 
ornaments. 

When the bride was ready to start, the men 
formed themselves into a procession which was 
followed by a second procession, in which was 
Shirin, riding on a richly caparisoned Bahrein 
donkey, and surrounded by ladies of both families, 
with the exception of her own mother, who 
remained behind, as also her father. The bride 
who, at the moment of departure from her home, 
received some bread, salt, and cheese in a hand- 

79 



THE SHIA WORLD 

kerchief handed to her by her youngest brother, 
was preceded by a man who carried a mirror 
with its face towards her. On the way she was 
stopped several times by the ladies of her family 
demanding gifts, which had to be presented by 
some prominent members of my uncle's family. 

When the bride approached our house she 
was made to stop, and the ladies declared that 
she would not move forward until I myself had 
appeared. In the meantime I had gone to meet 
her, and I soon heard the clang of instruments, 
the noise made by the fireworks, and the hum 
of many excited voices. 

The ladies, upon seeing me, cried out, "We 
have accepted you ! " They added, " You have 
taken great trouble." I then turned back ahead 
of the procession. 

When the bridal party reached the entrance 
of the street, in order to avert the evil eye, five 
sheep were sacrificed by order of my uncle, and 
the procession passed between the carcases and 
the severed heads, the meat being divided 
between the policemen, musicians, and others. 

By this time I had climbed up to the gate- 
way, and from it 1 caught sight of hundreds of 
men bearing lamps, and finally saw my beloved 
pass under where I was standing into the outer 
court of the house. Here my uncle, welcoming 
her, took her hand and led her to the chamber 

80 



MY BETROTHAL AND MARRIAGE 

prepared for her. Rue was burnt in front of her, 
and Shirin threw a gold piece into the brazier. 
This too is a very ancient custom for averting 
the evil eye. 

Shirin was then kissed by my mother, and I 
was conducted into the chamber, and a jug and 
basin were prepared when 1 removed the Dolagh ^ 
of Shirin and she removed the socks from my 
feet. One of the women servants poured out 
water and I washed the big toe of her right foot 
and then of her left, Shirin doing the same for 
me ; and, when this was done, we both threw a 
gold piece into the basin. 

After this I tried to remove the veil to see 
her face, but I only succeeded after making her 
a present of a pair of golden bracelets studded 
with turquoises. We gazed intently at each 
other's face in the great mirror, and I nearly 
swooned with joy to feel that, at last, Shirin was 
in my home. 

I next started conversation by inquiring after 
her health, and before she uttered a word in 
reply I had to put a few gold coins into her 

mouth. 

The tablecloth was then spread, and we both 
partook of some of the bread, cheese, and salt 
brought by the bride ; and put mouthfuls of rice 

* Dolagh is the garment worn out of doors, combining stockings 

and trousers. 

81 G 



THE SHIA WORLD 

into each other's mouths. At this point I pre- 
sented Shirin with a necklace of Bahrein pearls, 
an heb-loom of my great ancestor ; and this gift 
made my bride speak freely at last, as the other 
ladies examined it with envy : 

The beauty of my beloved is independent of my incomplete 
Her beautiful face is not in need of rouge, colour, tattooing. 

At length our lady friends and relations all 
departed, and as the argent moon soared through 
the star-spangled sky I murmured : 

'Tis a deep charm which makes the lover's flame. 
Not ruby lip, nor verdant down its name : 
Beauty is not the eye, look, cheek, and mole, 
A thousand subtle points the heart control. 

At that moment the bulbul in tlie rose-bushes 
broke out into an ecstasy of song, and its notes 
and the intoxicating smell of the jasmine made 
an earthly paradise of what was now the home 
of Shirin. 



CHAPTER VI 

KERMAN, THE HEART OF THE WORLD 



On the fuce of the earth, there is no place like Kerman ; 
Kennaa is the heart of the world, and we are men of heart. 

Shah Nahat Uu^h. 

The origin of Kermaii is famous throughout the 
Seven Climates, if only on account of the world- 
renowned legend connected with it, which I will 
here repeat. 

In the days of Ardeshir, son of Babek, who 
lived many centuries before our Prophet, on 
him and on his descendants be peace, a maiden 
was spinning with her companions in a garden 
when she picked up an apple, within which she 
found a kerm or worm. 

She, half in jest, vowed that if she completed 
her allotted task before her companions, she 
woidd cherish the worm and feed it daily. 
Almost at once her spinning was completed, and 



THE SHIA WORLD 

from that day her father's family increased in 
prosperity until they conquered the province, 
which was thenceforward known by its name of 
Kerman or the " Worm Province." 

Ardeshir, monarch of Iran, suffered defeat 
after defeat at the hands of Haftan Bokht, the 
father of the girl, until he realised that So long 
as the Worm was alive he was powerless. 

Consequently he resolved on a daring strata- 
gem, and, disguising himself as a merchant 
prince, he presented himself before Haftan Bokht 
and said, that as he owed all his success in trade 
to the good fortune of the Worm, he requested 
the honour of feeding it for three days. This 
petition was readily granted, and as Firdausi, 
the greatest epic poet of all the cycles of time, 
writes : 

When their souls were deep steeped in the wine-cup ; 
Forth fared the Prince with his hosts of the hamlet, 
Brought with him copper and brazen cauldron. 
Kindled a flaming fire in the white daylight. 
So to the Worm at its meal-time was measured 
In place of milk and rice much molten metal. 
Unto its trench he brought that liquid copper ; 
Soft from the trench its head the Worm upraised. 
Then they beheld its tongue, like brazen cymbal. 
Thrust forth to take its food as was its custom. 
Into its open jaws that molten metal 

Poured he, while, in the trench, helpless the Worm writhed ; 
Crashed from its throat the sound of fierce explosion. 
Such that the trench and whole fort fell a-quaking. 
Swift as the wind Ardeshir and his comrades 

84 



KERMAN 

Hastened with drawn swords, arrows, and maces. 
Of the Worm's warders, wrapped in their wine-sleep. 
Not one escaped alive from their fierce onslaught. 
Then from the Castle-keep raised he the smoke-wreaths 
Which his success should tell to his captains. 
Hasting to Shahr-gir swift came the sentry, 
Crjdng, " King Ardeshir his task hath finished ! " 
Quickly the captain then came with his squadrons. 
Leading his mail-clad men unto the King's aid. 

r think, O wise men of the Seven Climates, 
that you will agree that the origin of Kerman is 
out of the common, and that the city founded 
by Ardeshir is no ordinary city. He it was who 
constructed the great ditch and also the two 
awesome forts, reaching to the clouds, and the 
stronger and higher of these great fortresses still 
bears his name ; the other is known as the 
'* Virgin's Fort," and has never been polluted by 
a conqueror's triumph. 

But to-day, thanks to the might of the Kajar 
dynasty, these forts are in ruins, as peace reigns 
everywhere, and the city of Kerman, which bears 
the illustrious title of " Abode of Safety," 
stretches far and wide at their feet. Not that 
there are no walls round the city, that would be 
folly ; but Kerman is built on a perfect plan and 
has great squares, peerless mosques, and superb 
colleges, that make it the envy of all other cities 
in Persia. 

The palace, too, is so magnificent that 
travellers consider its " Hall of Audience " to 

85 



THE SHIA WORLD 

be a rival to that at the capital, but Allah knows 
if this be true. 

No account, however, of the residence of the 
Governor-General would be complete without a 
reference to the Drum House. From the days 
of Jamshid.' who built the palaces still called by 



his name near Shiraz, every great city has 
enjoyed the privilege of hearing music, which 
is played from a gateway to usher in the rising 
sun and to play out the setting sun. Indeed, it 
is evident that this music is of great antiquity. 
The instruments consist of kettledrums of a 
large size, pipes, and long trumpets quite six 

' Penepolis ia termed " T lie Throne of Jamshid " by the 



I PAR5I OABDBNER 



• • • 
• ' if 






HERMAN 

feet long. Whenever I hear the music I feel 
proud that I am an Irani, whose history goes back 
to the days when the sun was worshipped ; and 
even Farangis acknowledge that they have never 
heard any music Uke that of the Drum House. 



Our city, compared to which Shiraz is little 
more than a village, is surrounded by lovely 
gardens, many of which are owned by the Gabrs,' 

' Tbe Gabrs, or P.irsis, as we term them, .sometimes identify 
Zoroaster with Abraham. As a matter of fact, when fciven a chonve, 
as in India, they prove themselves to be a very tine race. In 
Persia, too, they are noted for their integrity. 



THE SHIA WORLD 

who, although despised by all Mussulmans, are 
yet the best gardeners in Persia ; and, after all, 
they are our own stock and they swear that 
Hazrat Ibrahim was their Prophet. 

Kerman is famous for its shawls, which rival 
those of Kashmir, and for its carpets, which are 
unrivalled in the world. They say that it is the 
wonderful climate of the province which produces 
wool of such exquisite fineness ; and yet, without 
the hereditary skill of the Kermanis, of what use 
would these advantages prove? Indeed, kings 
prize the output of the Kerman looms; and 
whenever a robe of honour is bestowed by the 
Shah, may Allah protect him 1 it is always a 
Kerman shawl of exquisite beauty and fineness. 
Indeed, the shawls of Kashmir, which also are 
very fine, are partly manufactured from Kerman 
wool, and so, in praising them, I also laud 
Kerman. 

Not that the province is without natural 
products, as, among many other things which 
grow wild for any one to collect, are the 
delicious caraway seeds. Indeed, so famous 
are they that "To take caraway seeds to 
Kerman " has become a proverb. 

The inhabitants of my city are noted for their 
hospitality, and there were frequent parties in 
the gardens with their red roses, leafy glades, 

and running streams ; and we spent the summer 

90 



KERMAN 

day in reciting verses or discussing the history 
of glorious Iran. In the winter, too, the long 
evenings were spent most pleasantly, as Persians, 
and especially the Kermanis, have so keen a wit 
that it is impossible to tire of listening to its 
sallies. In short, I thanked Allah that I had 
become an inhabitant of such a famous city, 
where my learning and wit were so fully 
appreciated. 

Owing to the fact that the Governor-General, 
the Vakil-ul-Mulk, may Allah keep cool his 
grave! had always considered my father as one of 
his own family, his son, who had now succeeded 
him, continued to treat me with equal kindness, 
and I gradually became his chief courtier, and so 
fond was he of history and poetry that, when he 
went into the mountains during the "Forty 
days of Heat," he always took me in his service ; 
and thus my position and wealth were increased. 
Indeed, I soon began to be employed on matters 
of importance, as will be shown later on. 

I have not hitherto mentioned that in 
Kerman there lived an English doctor who, 
when he first came, was looked upon as a 
stranger; but, Allah knows, in surgery the 
English surpass even our best hakims^ and, as 
Allah the Omnipotent used the Sahib as a 
medium to restore the sight of my uncle, who 
had a cataract in his left eye, I became a great 

9S 



THE SHIA WORLD 

friend of his ; and indeed it was he who suggested 
that the inhabitants of London and of the New 
World would like to read the story which is now 
being written. 

In addition to a hospital, a school was opened 
by the English, and to it a few of the sons of 
the Khans were sent The Vakil-ul-Mulk, whose 
grandfather had been the official entertainer of 
Sir John Malcolm, when that illustrious English- 
man was appointed ambassador at the foot of the 
throne of Fath Ali Shah, was most kind to the 
English ; and perhaps it is not known that once 
when a high official asked him to name what gift 
the British Government should offer him, he 
replied that he wished a Persian translation of 
the ambassador's History of Persia to be made 
and presented to him. 

I always consider that this action showed how 
noble was the character of the Vakil-ul-Mulk, 
and I shall never forget his reply to his Vizier 
who had represented that, in his opinion, a 
hundred rifles would have been a more useful 
gift. The Vakil-ul-Mulk simply replied, " Listen 
what Shaykh Sadi says : 

^^ Sons of Adam from learning will find perfection. 
Not from dignity, and rank, and wealth, and property ; 
Like a taper one must melt in pursuit of learning. 
Since without learning one cannot know God." 

Now I do not want it thought that I who am, 

94 



KERMAN 

Allah be praised, a pious Mussulman, am a lover 
of European ways. Far from it, I am no fool, 
and what I know, I know. 

Once, our Governor-General sent one of his 
sons to Europe with plenty of money, and with 
instructions to study history, law, geography, all 
sciences and languages, and above all. Parlia- 
ment^ Well, Fazal Ullah Khan spent several 
years and much money in London, and wrote to 
his father such accounts of his learning and of the 
attentions paid to him by its Viziers, who, accord- 
ing to him, vied with one another in honouring 
him, that the Governor-General was transported 
with delight, and frequently exclaimed in Durbar 
that, without the slightest doubt, Fazal Ullah 
Khan would, one day, be Grand Vizier of Persia, 
or, if not that, he would certainly become Vizier 
for Foreign Affairs. 

At length Fazal Ullah Khan wrote to his 
father that he was returning to his service, and 
His Excellency, who was camping in the hills 
during the *' Forty days of Heat," gave orders 
for him to be met with the highest honours 
by all his servants, of whom I was one of the 
chief. 

The reception party consisted of three 
hundred sowars under a general, but with the 

^ The strength of the British nation is held to be derived from 
this word, which was formerly believed to be magical. 

95 



THE SHIA WORLD 

Governor's chief officer in supreme charge. 
There were also twenty mounted servants 
leading superb horses with collars of gold round 
their necks and gorgeous Resht saddle-cloths; 
and the Governor s favourite horse was sent for 
Fazal UUah Khan to ride upon. In truth, had 
he been a prince more honour would not have 
been shown him. 

Near the camp, ten servants with silver maces 
and sixty farrashes led the future Vizier to where 
His Excellency awaited him alone. Fazal UUah 
Khan flung himself off his horse and wished to 
do obeisance to his father ; but the latter, kissing 
him on the mouth, led him by the hand to a tent 
which they entered alone. 

After a short silence His Excellency said, 
" My son, during the course of your many years 
of travel, tell me what is the most extra- 
ordinary thing thou hast observed." "Lord of 
my life," was the reply, " may I be thy ransom ; 
but, in London, even the little boys spoke the 
English tongue." 

The Governor made no reply, but rose and 
left the tent. He was immediately surrounded 
by the nobles of the province, who expressed 
hopes that he was satisfied with his son. The 
only reply I heard was, "My money has been 
burnt." 

That night this matter and nothing else was 

96 



KERMAN 

under discussion, and I quoted the following 
verse : — 

From the miracles of our spiritual Leader what a wonder I 
The snow fell, and he stated ^^the snow is falling.** 

Needless to say, none of us Kermanis have, 
since that date, thought of educating our sons 
in Europe ; and surely we are wiser than the 
Tehranis, who are now constantly sending their 
sons to Paris and London. Thera is also the 
fear lest our youths might become enamoured of 
a Christian maiden and follow the evil example 
of Shaykh Sinan, who, in like case, deserted his 
band of disciples and grazed a herd of swine. 
As Sadi wrote : 

I saw a holy man in a mountain. 

Who, abandoning the world, took up his abode in a cave ; 

I asked him, *' Why dost thou not visit the city 

So that thou mightest distract thyself somewhat ? ** 

He replied, " There are beauteous fairies there ; 

When there is much mud, the elephants slip.** 

In short, whenever I pass the school which is 
held near my house and hear all the boys learn- 
ing to recite our holy Koran, I exclaim, " Praise 
be to Allah, this is true education." Moreover, 
if a boy complains to me of the severity of the 
teacher and the frequency with which punish- 
ment is inflicted, I reply, " Know, ' O son,' that 
a blow from the teacher's rod is like a rose leaf." 
Thus do I comfort scholars. 

T have not hitherto referred fully to the 

97 H 



THE SHIA WORLD 

question of religion, and I do not expect that 
this work will move Christians to become true 
believers ; but yet I know that there is much 
ignorance among them ; and so it is right that I 
should lessen this by giving some account of our 
religion, and, to begin with, it is impossible to do 
better than to narrate the interview between the 
early refugees from Mecca and the Negus of 
Abyssinia. 

Then the Negus sent unto the followers of the Apostle 
of Allah. So when they came to him, he inquired of 
them saying, " What is this religion, by reason of which 
ye have separated from your people, yet enter not withal 
into my religion, nor into the religion of any other of 
these churches ? '' 

Then answered him Jafar, the son of Abu Talib (may 
the approval of Allah rest upon him !), saying, " O King ! 
We were a barbarous folk, worshipping idols, eating 
carrion, committing shameful deeds, violating the ties of 
consanguinity, and evilly entreating our neighbours, the 
strong amongst us consuming the weak; and thus we 
continued until Allah sent unto us an Apostle from our 
midst, whose pedigree, and integrity, and faithfulness, and 
purity of life we knew, to summon us to Allah, that we 
should declare His unity, and worship Him, and put away 
the stones and idols which we and our fathers used to 
worship in His stead ; and he bade us be truthful in 
speech, and faithful in the fulfilment of our trusts, and 
observing of the ties of consanguinity and the duties of 
neighbours, and to refrain from forbidden things and from 
blood ; and he forbade us from immoral acts and deceitful 
words, and from consuming the property of orphans, and 
from slandering virtuous women ; and he commanded us 
to worship Allah, and to associate naught else with Him, 

98 



KERMAN 

and to pray, and give alms and fast/' Then the Negus 
wept and said to them, " Verily this and that which Moses 
brought emanate from one lamp.'" 

O men of Europe, surely it is wiser for us 
who are "People who possess a revealed 
Scripture" to agree with the Negus than to 
remain divided as if by a bottomless gulf. 

To resume, it is, of course, known to the in- 
structed that the Mussulmans in the world are 
divided into two great divisions and seventy- 
two subdivisions. The Persians term themselves 
Shias or "Separatists," and the rest of the 
Mussulmans are, generally speaking, Sunnis or 
"Followers of the Traditions," although there 
are many Shias in Hindustan and elsewhere. 

We Shias consider that Hazrat Ali, on Him 
and on his family be Peace, was the true 
successor of the Prophet. 

Ali is the pearl of the ocean of eternity ; 
Ali is the successor of Mohamed. 

Consequently, the three caliphs who ruled be- 
fore Ali came to his rights are considered to be 
usurpers by us ; Omar, in particular, who con- 
quered Persia, being especially accursed. It is 
also firmly believed that the last Imam is not 
dead, but hidden. Inshallah! I shall refer to 
this question again. 

Apart from the great division between the 

Shias and Sunnis there are also minor divisions, 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

and, in Kerman, almost all the Klians belonged 
to the Shaykhi sect, and believed that at the 
resurrection men would only arise in the spirit 
and not in the flesh. Moreover, it was believed 
that there must always be a special channel of 
grace between the hidden Imam and his church. 
Hqji Mohamed Kerim Khan of the Kajar family 
was the head of the Shaykhis when I first lived 
at Kerman ; and, as my mother also belonged to 
the Kajar family, I was brought up to respect 
them. 

Yet it is the Sufi creed which really attracted 
me, and which I have already referred to. 
Many are the hours I spent listening to the 
Murshid or Spiritual Head of the Mahun Shrine^ 
and my heart approved when he repeated again 
and again that all religious fanaticism was the 
result of ignorance, and that it must be swept 
away to make place for universal love. 

Do not listen to the strife amongst the seventy-two religions : 
Not seeing the way of reality they have strayed into romance- 

During the whole of his life he slept but four 
hours in the night, merely wrapping himself in 
his brown cloak, and lying down on the bare 
floor. Moreover, he strictly limited himself to 
the number of mouthfuls of food which he 
deemed actually necessary to sustain his slender 
frame. 

He died while giving a lecture to his eager 

100 



I 



KERMAN 

disciples on tlie love of Allah, murmuring ' Hu, 
Hu, Hu.' ' In truth he was a holy man. May 
Allah forgive him I 

I have referred to this question, for Allah 
knows there be enough sinners among the 
Mussulmans ; but they alone will travel for 
months across deserts, and bear heat and cold, 
hunger and thirst, which kills many among them. 
Yet on they press in thousands, and all in the 
hope that they may gaze on the tomb of the 
martyred Imam, the innocent Riza. On Him 
and on his family be Peace ! To make this 
pilgrimage one day became, from this period, 
my fixed desire. 

To conclude this chapter what better can I 
say than that — 

Kerman is the heart of the world, and we are men of heart. 
' Sc. He, meaning thereby God. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE DEATH OF MIBZA HASAN KHAN, MUSTAUFl 

Manv are the famous and many nre the fortunate, 

Who have rent the garmeot of life. 

Who have drawn the head within the wall of the ^rave. 



It was about three years after my marriage when 
my uncle addressed me with much solemnity 
and said, "Oh my son, up to the age of forty 
years a man develops ; but after this he remains 
stationary, just as the sun when it has reached the 
meridian seems to stop, and then to move more 
slowly until it begins to set. 

" From forty to fifty years a man feels that he 
is failing every year, but after reaching this age he 
feels it every month until he is sixty, when he 
feels it every week. Now I, my son, have passed 
seventy years, and, as the poet writes : 

" Hast thou won a throne higher than the Moon ; 
Hast thou the power and the wealth of Solomon ! 
When the fruit is ripe, it falls from the tree ; 
When Thou hast attained thy limit, it is time to depart." 



THE DEATH OF HASAN KHAN 

A few days after speaking these words, Mirza 
Hasan Khan fell ill with fever, and so Haji 
Mohamed Khan, the Chief Physician of the 
quarter, was summoned. At first he encouraged 
us by giving proofs of his perception, as he said 
to my uncle that he knew that he had partaken 
of fowl that day, which happened to be true ; 
and Allah alone knows how he was aware of 
this, unless indeed he saw its feathers lying 
outside the kitchen. 

The Chief Physician, after making the most 
minute inquiries, ordered that all pickles and all 
white foods, such as milk, cheese, or curds, 
should be given up ; and he prescribed a broth 
of meat, vegetables, and rice all boiled to- 
gether. 

He added that it was most important that 
the meat should be cut from the neck of the 
sheep. Moreover, as the disease was pronounced 
to be of a cold type, castor oil, which is a warm 
drug, was administered as a purgative, followed 
by boiling water containing sugar. 

It was expected that, on the seventh night, 
perspiration would set in ; but as the fever was 
still strong, the legs of the patient were fumi- 
gated and mustard was rubbed in. Perspiration 
was again expected on the ninth night ; but as 
there was no abatement in the fever a family 
council was held, and it was decided to call in 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

Mirza Sadik Khan, the Chief Physician of the 
Vakil-ul-Mulk. 

This physician was famous throughout the 
province for having cured a man who was at the 
point of death from a bone sticking in his throat, 
and as, perhaps, some European doctor may read 
this story, I advise him to note how this suc- 
cessor of Avicenna added lustre to the glories of 
Persian science. 

The patient was brought in on the verge of 
death, and when his condition had been described, 
the learned physician stroked his long beard and 
exclaimed, " By Allah ! this case would be hope- 
less except for me, whose perception is pheno- 
menal. The cause of this man's state is a bone 
lodged in the throat so firmly that no efforts 
avail to dislodge it Therefore either the man 
must quickly die or the bone must be dissolved, 
and by what agency ? 

'' Thanks be to Allah I I am a physician and 
a Kermani, and have observed that wolves, who 
live on raw meat and bones, never suffer any 
calamity such as that of the patient. There- 
fore it is clear to me that the breath of a wolf 
dissolves bones, and that, if one breathes down 
the throat of the patient, the bone will be 
dissolved." 

Infinite are the marvels of Allah I for when a 
wolf, belonging to a buffoon, was brought in and 

104 



THE DEATH OF HASAN KHAN 

breathed on the patient, suddenly a fit of choking 
ensued, and the bone, dissolved without doubt 
by the breath of the wolf, was loosened and 
extracted. 

Since that date the Vakil -ul-Mulk would 
consult no other physician, and occasionally con- 
descended to remark that his physician was fit 
to rank with Plato. 

However, the arrival of the Governor-General's 
doctor much displeased Haji Mohamed Khan, 
and when Mirza Sadik Khan declared the disease 
to be of a hot type and prescribed broth com- 
posed of the flesh of cocks which are cold, as 
opposed to hens which are hot, in addition to a 
draught of water-melon juice with melon seeds ; 
and, finally, when he entirely forbade the use of 
salt, there was a great quarrel, so much so that 
my uncle bade them, in Allah's name, to leave 
him to die hi peace, and to allow him to follow 
the path of her who is forgiven, meaning thereby 
his deceased wife. 

He also quoted from the Koran, " Where- 
soever ye be death will overtake you, although 
ye be in lofty towers." 

At this time Izrail, the Angel of Death, 
was, in truth, knocking at the door ; and that 
no one can stay his entrance, is shown by what 
happened in the case of the Prophet, on Him be 
peace ! 

105 



THE SHIA WORLD 

It is recorded in the Book of Calamity^ and 
runs as follows ^ : — 

Izrail — Here is one of the least servants of Mohamed, 
the King of the Faithful. Let some one be kind enough 
to come to the door, for I have a message to deliver. 

Fatima (at the door). — Who is that knocking at the 
door ? And what can have induced him so to do ? Is his 
thunder-like voice going to strike my soul dead ? 

Izrail, — Know thou, O daughter of the Prophet, that 
I am a stranger come from a distant country to receive 
light from Mount Sinai of Arabia. Be pleased to open 
the door and allow me to enter, for I have a knot to be 
untied inside. 

The Prophet. — Dost thou not know, Fatima, who is he 
that knocks at the door ? 

Fatima. — No, father, I am unable to tell who that 
rough-spoken man is. I can only say that his dreadful 
voice has made me quite restless. 

The Prophet. — It is he who continually grieves the heart 
of men ; he who casts the dust of misery on the heads of 
poor widows. It is he, even the snatcher of the souls of 
men, Jinns, beasts, and birds ; he can command a full 
view of the east and west at the same time. 

Fatima. — Oh ! what shall I do ? The time of trouble 
has, after all, arrived, the hour of affliction approacheth. 
Come in, O thou Snatcher of Souls, and say what thou 
wishest to do, for thou art permitted by the Prophet to 
enter. 

Izrail. — Peace be unto thee, O Mighty Sovereign ! 
Peace be unto thee, O Sun of the World ! 

The Prophet. — On thee be both peace and honour ! 
Thou art altogether welcome. What may thy object or 
message be ? Tell us. 



^ The translation is taken from Sir L. Felly's The Miracle Play 
of Hasan and Husein, p. 83. 

106 



THE DEATH OF HASAN KHAN 

IzraiL — May I be offered unto thee, O thou King of 
Freedom and Liberty! The Creator of the World has 
sent me to the earth to thee, to know whether it be thy 
pleasure that I should transport thy soul from thy body 
to a garden of roses and jasmines, or whether thou 
preferest rather to live eternally on the earth. Thou 
mayest choose which thou likest best. 

The Prophet. — In the pleasure-garden of this life every 
beautiful rose is attended with several piercing thorns, 
and the treasure of this world has many venomous serpents 
accompanying it. Thus thou mayest take my life if thou 
pleasest. 

To return to the state of Mirza Hasan Khan, 
in despair a soothsayer was now called in. This 
individual, after repeating some cabalistic phrases, 
remarked that, the patient had evidently been 
attacked by Jinns, either from passing along a 
canal at night without repeating the name of 
Allah, or else from putting his hand into hot 
ashes, which disturbs the young Jinns. 

Neither of these things had Mirza Hasan 
Khan done ; but still we felt that something 
might be effected by the soothsayer ; and so, 
when he proposed to summon the king of the 
Jinns in order to inquire, we agreed. 

Thereupon he asked for a basin of water ; 
and we were all instructed to put money into 
it, in accordance with the love and regard we 
had for the patient. When I threw in a gold 
piece the soothsayer, with extraordinary gestures, 
chanted the following verse : 

107 



THE SHI A WORLD 

I adjure you, by the names of Allah, those of you who 
live in buildings and those who reside in deserts and un- 
inhabited places, that you present yourselves before me to 
listen to my order and to execute it. All of you who are 
riding horses should appear, accompanied by your kings 
and princes ; and all who are present or who are absent 
should appear, so that I may see you and speak to you in 
your oWn language, and obtain replies from you to the 
inquiries made from you as regards the treatment of this 
patient. Help, O Angels Rakyail, Jibrail,^ Mekiail, 
Sarfiail, Ainail, Kamsail, in producing these Jinns. 

Suddenly the soothsayer foamed at the mouth 
to make us believe that Shamhurasb, the King 
of the Jinns, had entered him, and a dialogue 
ensued, during the course of which Mirza 
Hasan Khan was accused of various offences 
against the Jinns, such as sitting at night under 
a green tree without repeating the name of 
Allah ; throwing stones at the heaps of house- 
sweepings, the usual place of rest at night of 
Jinns and their children ; throwing a bone, 
and thereby hurting the Jinns ; finishing his 
meals without leaving anything ; or throwing 
a half-burnt piece of wood without uttering 
Allah's name. 

At length it was decided that a black cock 
should be sacrificed, and a charm written with 
its blood and placed underneath the pillow of 
the patient, who also was ordered to eat its 
liver raw ; but, alas I my dear uncle was dying, 

^ The Arabic form of Gabriel. 
108 



THE DEATH OF HASAN KHaN 

and, after mourners' tears had been administered 
in vain,^ he was gently laid with his face turned 
towards Mecca, while the " Yasin " chapter of 
the Koran was recited. 

After this the dying man was called upon 



to make his will in the presence of witnesses ; 
and he bequeathed one-third of his property 
for services in connection with his funeral, a 
pilgrimage by proxy to Mecca, and the reading 
of a special series of prayers at the shrine of 

' Mourners' tears are collected duriug the ''Passion Play"de- 

scribed in chapter xii., and are cousidered to be a sovereif^n remedy 

for all diseases. The clean handkerchief, in which the tears are 

gathered, is dried and placed in the shroud uf tlie dead man. 

109 



THE SHIA WORLD 

the Imam Riza. The other two-thirds of his 
property, consisting of a house, a garden, and 
four parts of a village, were bequeathed to me. 
The document was first sealed by the dying 
man, then by Aga Mohamed and other 
witnesses. 

When the will was drawn up and thus 
completed, my uncle's seal was broken and 
placed at his right side ; and his shroud was 
prepared, covered with the various prayers 
written by forty-one different individuals : 

O Allah ! we know certainly nothing but good about this 
person ; but Thou knowest his condition better. 

This is a testimony in favour of the deceased. 
And, as one of our deep-thinkers in utter 
humility and self-abasement wrote : — 

We are ashamed to find on the Day of Judgment 
That Thy forgiveness was too great to allow us to commit 
any sin. 

When the death agony was passed my 
uncle's eyes were closed, and, after his limbs 
were stretched, the great toes of both feet 
were tied together and a scarf was bound 
round the head under the chin. The corpse 
was next placed on a bier, and after being 
carried round the court of the house, was taken 
to the Washing Place, preceded by Allah 
Mughari^ termed the "Ministers of Death," 
whose duty it is, the moment a death has 

110 



THE DEATH OF HASAN KHAN 

occurred, to ascend to the roof of the house 
and to chant in Persian : 

Whosoever has come into this world is mortal ; 

The one who alone remains alive and everlasting is Allah. 

Moreover, they chant the names and attributes 
of Allah in Arabic, whereby the fact of the 
decease is notified. 

The corpse at the Washing Place was laid 
on a flat stone. The clothes were first removed, 
and it was washed with pure water, with water 
and soap, with water in which leaves of the lote 
tree had been mixed, and, finally, with camphor 
water. It was then wrapped in the shroud, 
which was fitted by tearing off' suitable lengths, 
no thread or needle being allowed to touch it. 

Two green willow sticks were placed under 
the arms, on which were traced, by the finger 
alone, the following words : 

Certainly we know nothing but good of this person. 

It is believed that so long as the sticks are 
left in the tomb, so long the corpse remains 
untouched by time. 

When the corpse had been duly prepared, 

it was replaced on the bier and the funeral 

procession started for the cemetery. First came 

the relations, then the dead man carried by 

relays of voluntary bearers, and followed by 

a mullah on horseback, who recited the Al 

111 



THE SHIA WORLD 

Rahman chapter of the Koran. Behind came 
numerous friends, and the procession was 
lengthened by led horses, sent as a mark of 
respect to the late Mustaufi ; there was also a 



catafalque draped with black cloth, and numbers 
of people bearing unlighted candlesticks. In 
short, before the sad procession reached the 
cemetery at least a thousand people had 
joined it. 

There the funeral prayer was recited by 



THE DEATH OF HASAN KHAN 

the mullah^ and the bier was removed to the 
foot of the grave. Three times was it lifted 
from the ground and three times was it replaced. 
At the fourth time the corpse was gently- 
lowered head-foremost into the grave. 

Earth from the tomb of the Imam Husein at 
Kerbela was lightly thrown inside the shroud, the 
face of the corpse was uncovered and the right 
cheek laid on the bare ground, with a little of the 
sacred earth under it, the face itself being turned 
towards Mecca. The grave was first covered 
with bricks sufficiently high to allow the dead 
man to sit up and reply to the dread questions 
of Munkir and Nakir. Earth was then piled 
up and the mullah recited : 

O Allah ! this person is Thy slave, son of Thy man-slave and 

woman-slave. 
He is going to Thee and Thou art the best receiver of him. 

Finally, water was sprinkled on the earth, 
and all present, opening their hands, buried their 
fingers in the soil in such a manner as to leave 
marks, reciting meanwhile the opening chapter 
of the Koran. As long as the finger-marks 
remain there the corpse will not, we believe, be 
subjected to any trouble. This concluded the 
burial ceremony. 

But perhaps I ought to explain why these 
willow sticks are placed under the arms of the 
dead man, as otherwise the custom might 

113 I 



THE SHIA WORLD 

appear to be without meaning, whereas the 
contrary is the ease. 

When the burial is completed and the 
mourners have dispersed, the mullah stays behind 
and, standing with his face turned towards 
Mecca, he solemnly adjures the dead man thrice 
in the following words : " Hear and understand 1 
When the two angels visit thee and question 
thee, fear not ; but reply by the confession of 
faith. Hast thou understood ? " He then 
concludes, "May Allah keep thee firm in thy 
belief and guide thee ! " 

When the angels, Munkir and Nakir, visit 
the dead man, he raises himself into a sitting 
position on the two willow props. Standing 
one on each side, they straitly examine him, and, 
if the replies be satisfactory, they depart ; but, 
if not, the corpse is beaten into dust by terrible 
fiery maces, and then again restored to its 
original shape. 

If the deceased be a true Shia, whose replies 
have been found satisfactory, his spirit is taken 
to the " Abode of Peace " near Najaf to await 
the Day of Judgment ; otherwise his soul is 
taken to the Sahra-i-Barahut, near Babylon, 
where it undergoes penance, and is purified 
against the same awful day. 

The three following days were days of 
mourning. On the first day forty-one men were 

114 



THE DEATH OF HASAN KHAN 

engaged to recite short prayers for the dead, to 
strengthen him in facing Munkir and Nakir; 
these are called the " Prayers of Alarm." 

On the second day the grave was visited by 
relations and friends, and as the latter arrived 
they recited fatifiaSy or the opening chapter of 
the Koran, and ikhlaSy or the last chapter but 
one of the Koran. 

They then said, " May Allah give you patience 
and forgive the deceased, and may He make his 
position in heaven exalted ! " After this they sat 
down with us and repeated fatihas and ikhlaSy 
placing their hands on the grave. 

Then we all stood in a circle, and the Reciter 
recited a prayer for the forgiveness of all the 
prophets and saints, and, last of all, for the 
forgiveness of the dead man. 

We finally formed two rows, and thanked 
our numerous friends as they departed, saying, 
" Forgive the trouble," " You have taken infinite 
trouble." To this the reply was made, '^May 
Allah show you his kindness, grant you patience, 
and reward you for your goodness ! " 

During the three days of mourning all our 
friends came to offer condolences. When they 
entered the house they sat down and softly 
recited Sifatiha. 

Sarsalamatiy they then said, ** May your 
life be safe ! " Rose water was poured on the 

115 



THE SHIA WORLD 

palms of their right hands, with which they 
sprinkled their faces ; and, after drinking coffee, 
they picked up a portion of the Koran and read, 
or listened to the professional reciters, who 
recited chapters in a high-pitched tone. Finally, 
after partaking of tea and the water pipe, they 
withdrew to make room for fresh arrivals. 

On the third day, the leading mujtahidy Aga 
Mohamed, came to bring the mourning to an 
end. He entered, observing the same ceremonial 
as the other visitors ; and, after partaking of tea 
and a water pipe, he asked the relations of the 
dead man to fasten up the openings of their 
shirts which had been torn open as a sign of 
mourning, and to take off the shawl which the 
mourners, removing it from their waists, had 
wound round their necks. The Korans were 
then collected and a Sacred Recitation was held, 
at the termination of which all retired and the 
special part of the mourning came to an end. 

Again, on the fourth morning, people 

assembled at our house, and listened to the 

Koran being recited. We were then taken to 

the cemetery, and after saying 2i fatihay I was 

escorted back to the Mustaiijis office, where 

I was welcomed, no longer as a mere assistant, 

but as the successor to the deceased Mirza Hasan 

Khan. 

In order to show befitting respect for my late 

116 



THE DEATH OF HASAN KHAN 

uncle, reciters remained for seven days reading 
the Koran over the grave. On the seventh day 
lamps and candles were placed on it; and had 
the deceased been prematurely cut off there 
would have been a larger number. 

The ladies of the family lamented for the 
first three days with their friends, the same 
ceremonial being observed as in the assembly 
of the men ; and, on the seventh day, they held 
a recitation on the grave and then retired. On 
Friday evenings, on the fortieth day, and again 
at the end of the year, similar ceremonies were 
performed. This was, of course, in addition to 
the festival of the Id-i-Barat. On this day, in 
honour of the birth of the twelfth Imam^ all the 
souls of the dead receive a barat or bill of 
freedom for three days ; and services are held, 
and food and sweetmeats distributed to the poor 
at the graves, which are adorned with flowers. 

And thus, O my readers in Europe, respect us 
for the manner in which we reverence the dead, 
for whom we wear black clothes for forty days, 
during which period it is not permitted to use 
henna or to shave the head. Moreover, mourners 
do not attend any marriage ceremonies or parties 
of pleasure until the oldest member of the family 
takes them to the bath, where they have their 
hair cut and dyed and their beards trimmed. 

Meanwhile a slab of stone had been ordered, 

117 



THE SHIA WORLD 

bearing an inscription giving the name, family, 
and age of the late Mirza Hasan Klian, together 
with the date of his decease. Verses from the 
Koran and the names of the twelve Imams were 
also inscribed on it, and when we all visited the 
grave on the fortieth day, the slab was inspected 
and then erected over the grave. 

Now I have finished this very sad chapter, 
and, as the poet writes : 

Whosoever is bom must depart from this world. 
As annihilation must overtake every one. 



CHAPTER Vlll 

MY FIRST MAMURIAT 

A MamiiT should be wise, 
A ready talker, sharp witted. 
And of independent disposition. 

PlRDAUSI. 

Towards the end of the winter the Vakil-ul- 
Mulk, who had been Governor-General for some 
years, was summoned three or four times to the 
Telegraph Office, and there were rumours in the 
bazaar that he was to be dismissed. However, 
one day there came a private telegram from the 
Minister of the Interior, which ran as follows : 
" AlhamduUUah, after much trouble and dis- 
cussion, your aifair has been arranged. The 
Sovereign, may our souls be his sacrifice, con- 
descends, in consideration of your capacity and 
efficiency, to order that you remain Governor- 
General of Herman and Baluchistan." 

The Vakil- ul-Mulk, who was much pleased, 



THE SHIA WORLD 

at once gave the Telegraph Master, who brought 
the auspicious message in person, five hundred 
tomcuiSy and the following reply was despatched : 
"The kindness of the Sovereign has exalted the 
head of this lowly one, who ever prays that the 
shadow of His Majesty may eternally protect us. 
Ten thousand tomans^ although not a fit present 
for the royal establishment, are offered by a 
bill on Aga Faraj UUah." 

Shortly after this it was decided to send 
a robe of honour of .Kerman shawl to those 
governors who, by their efficiency and' capacity, 
had been deemed fit to remain in office ; for, 
praise be to Allah, the Vakil-ul-Mulk was not 
like one of his predecessors, who used to take a 
present from one man, appoint him to a governor- 
ship, and then almost immediately accept a 
present from a second man, and send him after 
the first with an order of dismissal. 

About this former ruler there is a story which 
runs that he once appointed a man to a governor- 
ship, and this individual, knowing what to expect, 
bethought him of a plan by which he might be 
secured in his post. So one day, when the 
Governor-General was sitting at the window of 
the Hall of Audience, he saw such a one riding 
on a horse with his face to its tail and holding 
a paper in his hand. On seeing this, His 
Excellency remarked, " What animal is this ? " 

120 



MY FIRST MAMURIAT 

and immediately ordered the individual to be 
brought to his presence and asked him what 
was the meaning of such behaviour. Such a 
one replied, " May I be your Sacrifice ! This 
slave was appointed Governor of Bam ; but, 
knowing that a second Governor would soon be 
appointed, he sat on his horse looking back 
towards Kerman and holding the order of 
appointment all ready for his successor ! *' 

The Governor- General, upon hearing this, 
rolled over with inextinguishable laughter ; and, 
when he was able to speak, he shouted, "Go, 
mount thy horse with thy head towards its 
head. I grant thee Bam for five years." 

To resume, I was appointed Mamur to bear 
the robe of honour to Hidayat Khan, Governor 
of Jiruft. This official, who was thus honoured, 
had recently represented to the Governor-General 
that, owing to the lack of careful supervision, 
the Government land at Dosari had become 
worthless ; but that he, to render a service to the 
State, was prepared to pay one thousand tomans 
for the property, although he knew that he 
would lose heavily by it. The Vakil-ul-Mulk, 
therefore, instructed me to also inquire into this 
question ; and thus I felt that I was indeed a 
person of consequence when I started on my 
journey, with a well-equipped abdari on a stout 
pony, and three servants, one of whom, Rustam 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

Beg, had served the deceased Mirza Hasan 
Khan as steward for many years. 

But perhaps, O my readers in London, there 
are no abdaris in your country, and it is there- 
fore necessary for me to explain their immense 
utility. The abdaH consists of a pair of large 
leather saddle bags, faced with carpet, and in 
these are placed a samovar, a box of sundries, a 
set of round copper dishes with lids, in which 
food is carried, a tray, candlesticks, and many 
other things. 

On the saddle bags the servant rides, sitting 
on a carpet or a Kerman felt of fawn colour, 
which, when needed, is spread for the meals or 
repose of the master. Behind is fastened a 
round leather case, in which all light articles, 
such as the water pipe, plates, spoons,' etc., are 
carried. Add a charcoal brazier for lighting 
purposes, which swings on one side, a set of 
spits, and an umbrella, and you will agree that 
nothing more is needed than a mule laden with 
clothes and bedding for even such luxurious 
travellers as we Iranis, from whom you can learn 
something in the way of comfort. 

Do not enter the tavern without the guide, 
Although you may be the Alexander of your time. 

The first town we reached was Mahun, where 
I stopped for a day to see my old friends, who 
all complimented me on my high position, and 

122 



MY FIRST MAMURIAT 

begged me to help them in their various cases. 
From Mahun we rode over a very lofty lange, 
and spent the night close to its highest point in 
the caravanserai just completed by the noble 
Vakil-ul-Mulk. The building was of stone, and 
consisted of a splendid courtyard, round which 
were many small chambers, and behind were 
stables for five hundred horses or mules. In 
short, thanks to the generosity of the Vakil-ul- 
Mulk, we all passed an agreeable night, whereas, 
otherwise, it would have been too cold at this 
season of the year for sleep. Listen to what 
Omar Khayyam writes : 

Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai 
Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day, 

How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp 
Abode his destined Hour, and went his way. 

We next halted at Rain, where a mullah in- 
sisted on entertaining me, although Rustam Beg 
warned me that the Aga was very avaricious. 
Indeed he spoke the truth, for, just as we were 
leaving on the following morning, his head 
servant came to tell me very confidentially that 
his master much admired my pistol. 

I should have replied, " A gift " ; but Rustam 
Beg interrupted me and said that the pistol was 
only lent me for the journey, and that it would 
not be right for me to part with it, even as a 
gift, to the Aga. He added that he himself was 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

responsible for the return of the pistol to its 
owner. When the Agas servant understood 
that he had failed he was very angry, so Rustam 
Beg said, " Bismillah ! let us start quickly " ; and 
when we had left the village behind he exclaimed, 
" By Allah ! true is the proverb, ' None hath 
seen a snake's foot, an ant's eye, or a mullaKs 
bread.' Praise be to Allah that I did not allow 
him to flay you ! " 

From Rain we travelled down a wide valley 
to Sarvistan, which is noted as being one of the 
windiest spots in Iran, the saying running as 
follows : 

They asked the Wmd " Where is thy home ? " It replied, 
" My poor home is in Tahrud ; but I occasionally visit Abarik 
and Sarvistan." ^ 

Well do I recollect that it was necessary to 
order the luggage to be piled against the door 
that night, and, although this precaution pre- 
vented it flying open, it was impossible to sleep ; 
and yet the villagers did not consider this gale 
more than a light breeze ! May Allah take pity 
on them ! 

Separating us from Jiruft was the very high 
range of the Jabal Bariz, well termed " the Cold 
Range," as, although it wanted but twenty days 
to No Ruz^ it was very difficult for our party to 
cross it owing to the deep snow. 

' 'ITiese places are close to one another. 

124 



» • • 

V • 



.' .• 



• '. 



MY FIRST MAMURIAT 

We stopped for the night at Maskun ; about 
a farsakh off is a famous cave, said to contain 
gas which kills all living things. Allah knows 
if this be true, but many witnesses agreed to its 
being so. 

As a mamur from the Vakil-ul-Mulk, I was 
entertained by the head of the Jabalbarizis. He 
was evidently of a very great age — more than one 
hundred years, he said — and his face was like wax ; 
but yet his eye resembled that of a hawk, and, in 
spite of his poor clothes, he bore himself like a 
king, and his long white beard was most inajestic. 

I asked him whether he had visited Kerman 
recently, as I found his features familiar ; but he 
said that it was more than twenty years since 
he had left his district. That night, however, 
he narrated to me that he was a lineal descendant 
of Sultan Sanjar, from whom he was the thirty- 
fifth generation in descent ; and suddenly I 
recollected that I had recently been reading a 
history of that great Seljuk monarch, who, once 
the Lord of half Asia, was defeated and taken 
prisoner by the vile tribe of the Ghazz. I also 
remembered that, in the history, was a portrait of 
the Sultan, and that that portrait resembled my 
host closely. The ways of Allah are concealed ; 
but surely there is no other country in which its 
poor men can claim and prove that they are 
descended from Sultans. 

127 



THE SHIA WORLD 

The world is nothing, 

And the work of the world is nothing. 

There was deep snow at Maskun ; but yet, a 
few hours after leaving it, we descended into 
the valley of Jiruft, where it was already late 
spring, and it was delightful to see the green 
crops growing luxuriantly all round the groves of 
date palms. There were also large numbers of 
lambs and kids. 

We were received by the confidential servant 
of the Governor, and entertained at a village 
situated on the right bank of the Halil Rud, the 
chief river of the Kerman province, which, from 
its violence, is also known as the Div Rud or 
*' Demon River." 

Close by stretched the ruins of the " City of 
Dakianus,"^ covering many farsakhs. Now 
several ruined cities are termed by this name 
after a Sovereign, to escape whose persecutions 
seven Christian youths took refuge in a cave 
with a faithful dog, and there slept for three 
hundred and nine years, as recounted in the 
Koran, '^v^o farsakhs to the west is said to be 
the cave in which they slept ; but I knew that 
this event took place in Asia Minor, and that 
this city was, in reality, the ruins of Komadin, 
which, so I have read, was the storehouse of the 
valuables of China and Cathay, and of Hindustan, 

* Dakiauus is the Roman Emperor Decius. 

128 



MY FIRST MAMURIAT 

Abyssinia, Zanzibar, and Egypt. By Allah, I 
felt sad when I thought of, the fate of Komadin, 
sacked by the accursed Ghazz, who tortured its 
wretched inhabitants by pouring down their 
throats hot ashes known as "Ghazz coffee." 
May the curse of Allah be upon them ! 

Three days later, escorted by his staff and 
attendants, Hidayat Khan came out two far sakhs 
from Dosari to a spot fixed by long custom for 
these important ceremonies. There I invested 
him with the robe of honour which had been, 
I assured him, worn by His Excellency the 
Governor-General, and was therefore, in truth, 
tanpush or " worn on the body," an especial 
honour. I also presented him with the order, 
by which he was reappointed Governor of Jiruft 
for the following year. Hidayat Khan was 
much pleased, and put on the robe of honour 
before the whole of the assembled Klians and 
people. He also placed the order on his head and 
eyes, and reverently kissed it before opening it. 

To me he showed great kindness, not only on 
account of the deceased Mirza Hasan Khan, 
but also perhaps because I was now miistauji in 
his place, and had charge of the revenue of the 
district. That night I was presented with a 
beautiful horse of Nejd race ; and it was ex- 
plained to me that an ordinary mamur would 
only have been given fifty tomans \ but that I 

129 K 



THE SHIA WORLD 

was to be considered an honoured friend and 
kinsman, as I was connected with Hidayat Khan 
through my mother. 

Rustam Beg told me, with reference to the 
gift, that, before the just rule of the Vakil-ul- 
Mulk, a tyrant iiad been Governor -General of 
Kerman, who heard that Hidayat Khan possessed 
a Nejd mare of pure race. He tried to secure 
this by sending his Master of Horse to stay with 
the Klian^ with orders to obtain it as a gift ; but 
this plan the latter rendered worthless by giving 
him butter which had been poisoned with copper, 
from which he nearly died. Indeed mamufs 
butter has become a proverb in the province. 

Knowing, however, that the matter would 
have a sequel, the Khan sent off his family to 
Shiraz with the famous mare, and never slept in 
his house at night. By Allah 1 he was astute, as, 
a month later, fifty sowars suddenly surrounded 
his house at night, and, when they found neither 
the mare nor its master, they tied up and flogged 
all the servants, sacked the place, and then 
burned it. This Hidayat Khan saw from where 
he was living in a nomad tent difarsakh off; and 
he rode away to Shiraz, and thence went to 
Tehran, to prostrate himself at the foot of the 
Throne. But the tyrant was too powerful, and 
so he lived at Tehran for some years until that 
wicked Governor died, and he was free to return 

130 



MY FIRST MAMURIAT 

to Jiruft. My old servant concluded by telling 
me that the horse presented to me was of that 
same famous race. 

The following morning I inspected the 
Government property, which, to judge from the 
quantity of weeds, was not well cultivated ; but 
yet it appeared to be worth at least five thousand 
tomans \ and I was informed that, if properly 
managed, it would yield crops worth two 
thousand tomans every year. For a day or two 
Rustam Beg was constantly visiting the Khan ; 
and, finally, after much hard bargaining, and a 
threat to return to Kerman, it was arranged that 
I should receive two hundred tomans for my 
trouble, and that eight hundred tomans should be 
offered as a present to the Governor-General, if 
the Government agreed to the sale of the land 
at the price suggested. 

In the meanwhile the Khan had paid me 
three hundred tomans which were due to the 
secretary of His Excellency for the cost of the 
robe of honour, the pay of the tailor, and the 
customary gift for the keeper of robes. 

As it was very important to reach Kerman 
before the festival of No Buz, because to travel 
during that period, according to our ideas, is 
inauspicious, I asked the Khan to allow me to 
leave and said good-bye to him. 

Two of my horses having died from eating 

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oleander, which is a terrible poison growing at 
the first stage, it was decided to make a double 
march, and so Dosari was left in the middle of 
the night, and we rode through the pass with the 
oleander bushes without stopping, and finally 
halted at the hamlet of Saghdar. At this stage 
there was no snow left ; but, on the contrary, 
even the camel thorn was beginning to show 
great buds. 

Close to the hamlet was a party of gipsies ; 
and Rustam Beg warned every one to be careful 
to see that they did not steal anything, when 
they came round playing their instruments and 
offering their pipe-stems for sale. These gipsies 
are the descendants of a band of twelve thousand 
Indian musicians and jugglers who were brought 
from India by Bahram Gur to amuse us Iranis ; 
and, even to-day, they alone are the public 
musicians in most parts of Persia, although I 
have heard that, in Shiraz, Jews engage in this 
low profession. However, they are good iron- 
workers, and also they are experts at bleeding. 
Now we Iranis know that, unless we are cupped 
every spring and thereby purify our blood, we 
shall not retain good health during the summer ; 
and thus their services are much in request for 
this purpose. In short, they are a vile race, but 
yet useful to us. 

When we had recrossed the Jabal Bariz, we 

132 



* • 



MY FIRST MAMURIAT 

found that everywhere spring was coming ; and 
we decided to march without any halts so as to 
reach Kerman some days before No Ruz. At 
Sarvistan, however, we met some men who had 
been robbed of everything except their trousers 
by a party of twenty-five Afshar bandits ; and 

« 

so, that night, it was decided to take an Istakhara^ 
or beads, as to whether we should march the 
following day or wait for further news. 

Now every Mussulman carries a rosary with 
one hundred beads, the origin of which is con- 
nected with the marriage of Her Highness the 
Princess Fatima. 

The Prophet, on Him be Peace ! declared that 
he would only give her in marriage to him on to 
whose house the planet Venus descended. That 
night all the suitors to her hand were watching 
the heavens from the roofs of their houses, when 
the planet moved from its place and descended 
to above Medina. The white Fatima, too, was 
watching ; and, on seeing this marvel, she called 
out Allah ho Akbar^ or ** Allah is Great." When 
this exclamation had been repeated thirty-four 
times the planet began to circle round Medina, 
whereupon she exclaimed Subhan Ullah^ or 
"Glory be to Allah." This she had repeated 
thirty -three times when the planet moved 
towards the house of Ali, and, finally, she broke 
into Alhanidulillahy or "Thanks be to Allah," 

135 



THE SHIA WORLD 

which she repeated thirty-three times, while the 
planet stopped over the house of Ali, con- 
gratulated him on his good fortune, and re- 
ascended to its place in the firmament. 

These rosaries are consulted in case of danger, 
and indeed on every occasion. So the opening 
chapter of the Koran was first solemnly recited, 
after which I shut my eyes and, thinking intently 
about the dangers of the road, I took an un- 
known number of beads in my hand ; and then 
counted them three at a time. 

Every one was delighted when it was seen that 
there were ten beads, as one over, termed Subltan 
Ullahy is deemed to be most auspicious ; and 
we immediately determined to proceed on the 
following day. Of course we kept our pistols 
and rifles all ready, but the route was deserted, 
although we saw where the Afshars had thrown 
away part of the loot which was useless to 
them ; and, that night, we all felt very happy 
that we had been able to prove the truth of our 
proverb that **a road attacked by thieves is safe," 
which means that, after attacking a caravan, the 
robbers hasten away with their loot, knowing 
that they will be pursued. 

In fact, that night a Captain with thirty 
sowars arrived, and, a week after our return to 
Kerman, they brought in seven of the thieves, 
who were publicly executed in the great square 

136 



MY FIRST MAMURIAT 

of Kerman, after which the executioner was 
given a present by all the shopkeepers, this being 
his perquisite. 

During the last stage, the horses and mules 
understood that they were approaching their 
home, and moved quite ajiirsakk an hour ; and, 
in time, the walls of beloved Kerman appeared, 
and this my first mamurtat was successfully 
accomplished. Not only was the private secre- 
tary pleased with what I had brought him ; but 
even His Excellency, after listening to the de- 
tails of what I had done, condescended to praise 
my diligence and capacity, and remarked to the 
above official that such a one was a good servant. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE PERSIAN NEW YEAH 

Yet Ah, tliat Spring should vanish with the Rose ! 
That Youth's sweet-scented manuscript should cloee ! 

The Nightingale that in the branches sang. 
Ah whence, and whither flown again, who knows ! 

Omar Khavvam. 

It is one of the chief glories of Iran that it 
has been ruled by monarchs who have become 
renowned throughout the Seven Climates. 
Perhaps the greatest among our many famous 
rulers was Jamshid, who introduced the use of 
iron, the art of weaving, the art of healing, and 
indeed many other arts, on which the happiness 
not only of Persia but of the entire world is based. 
Among his inventions was that of wine, which 
was discovered in the following manner : — The 
King, who was immoderately fond of grapes, 
stored a quantity which fermented. Seeing 
this, he placed them in jars and had the word 
" poison " written on them. It happened that 



THE PERSIAN NEW YEAR 

one of his wives, who was suffering from a 
torturing ailment, decided to commit suicide, 
and so drank of the contents of the jars, which 
immediately cured her. Jamshid and his 
courtiers thenceforward became addicted to the 
use of wine, which has, since that date, been 
known as ** Sweet Poison." 

By the orders of the Koran the drinking of 
wine is forbidden ; but yet the habit has always 
been so strong among Persians that many of 
them still drink it, but always in private, and, 
generally, having the desire to give up the bad 
practice ; also they repent when they yield to 
this weakness, and pray to Allah to grant them 
grace. By thus repenting, their prayers are 
perhaps accepted, for sincere repentance wins 
the favour of Heaven. 

In truth, many Mussulmans would not approve 
of Hafiz when he writes : 

Sakiy come ! my bowl rekindle with the light of lustrous wine ; 

but they understand that the poet means by the 
Saki or Cupbearer the Spiritual Instructor, who 
hands a cup of celestial love, which is typified 
by wine. 

However, in discussing this important question, 
Jamshid has been forgotten. He, apart from the 
wonderful discoveries made by him, was able, by 

means of his seven -ringed cup, not only to 

139 



THE SHIA WORLD 

predict tlie future, but also to survey the entire 
world. In short, Jamshid ranks with Suliman or 
Solomon, son of David, as the lord of the Divs ; 
and to-day there is the Takht-i- Suliman and also 
the Takht-i-Jamshid close together in Fars ; and 
they say that there is no doubt whatever that 
the latter is much finer than the former. 



Among the benefits conferred on the people 
of Iran by this mighty monarch, I will now refer 
to the institution of iVb Ruz or New Year's Day, 
which, by his decree, was fixed at the Vernal 
Equinox. 

I marvel when I read that, in Farangistan, 
the year begins in the " Forty days of Cold." 
Praise be to Allah, Jamshid decreed our New 
Year, both in accordance with nature and science. 



!■■■» ■ ^^^■•■^^^iP«s^»»»i^»B»^»^BB 



w-"" jy 



THE PERSIAN NEW YEAR 

With us the " Forty days of Cold " commence 
on the shortest day of the year, as is meet and be- 
fitting ; and are succeeded by the ** Small Forty 
Days," which are only, in reality, twenty days. 

Now, seven days before the end of the great 
cold period we say that the earth breathes 
secretly, and that, twelve days later, it breathes 
openly. 

When the " Small Forty Days '' are ended 
there are two periods of ten days, known as 
Ahman and Bahman, as the old verse runs : 

Ahman has passed and Bahman has passed^ 
With whom should I please my heart ? 
I will take up a half-burnt piece of wood 
And kindle flames throughout the world. 

This signifies that now there is no more fear of 
cold, albeit ten days before the festival is the 
*' Season of the Old Woman," which, as its 
name implies, is sometimes very unpleasant and 
disagreeable. 

Meanwhile, however, the desert is becoming 
green and the blossom has begun to appear on 
the trees, and, as Omar Khayyam sings : 

Tram indeed is gone with all his Rose, 

And Jamshid's Sev'n-ring*d Cup where no one knows ; 

But still a Ruby kindles in the Vine, 
And many a Garden by the Water blows. 

And David's lips are lockt ; but in divine 
High-piping Pehlevi, with '' Wine ! Wine ! Wine ! 
Red Wine ! " — the Nightingale cries to the Rose 
That sallow cheek of hers to' incarnadine. 

141 



THE SHI A WORLD 

Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring 
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling ; 

The Bird of Time has but a little way 
To flutter — and the Bird is on the Wing. 

At this period, just before the " Season of the 
Old Woman," dervishes pitch tents outside the 
houses of the great and recite prayers for their 
prosperity. It is customary to make them a 
handsome gift ; but if this be not done quickly, 
they blow their horns at intervals during the 
night and, by rendering sleep impossible, loosen 
the purse-strings of the rich Khan or merchant. 
Indeed I have never forgotten the awe with 
which I regarded a dervish at Mahun, who 
possessed a beautifully inlaid axe of a great age, 
a begging bowl, on which the combat of Rustam 
with the White Div was carved, and a very fine 
lion's skin. While I was gazing in wonder at 
these articles, Ya Hu was pronounced like a 
lion's roar and my heart became like water. 
Ever since that date I have reverenced dervishes, 
as is but right and befitting. 

I now come to the preparations for this our 
greatest festival. Some ten days before it, 
" House Shaking " is performed, every room 
being carefully swept and the carpets taken out 
and beaten. New clothes, too, are made for 
every member of the household. Already some 
wheat has been prepared by being wetted so that 

142 



THE PERSIAN NEW YEAR 

it sprouts by the great day. Special cakes of 
fine wheat-flour, with butter and sugar, are also 
baked ; and the innumerable varieties of sweet- 
meats for which Yezd is especially famous : 
dried fruits and nuts are also provided. 

On the last Wednesday before the f§te, just 
before sunset, three fires of bushes are lighted in 
the courtyard, and every member of the house- 
hold jumps over them, reciting " Paleness yours 
and redness ours," signifying thereby that all ill- 
health is left behind and ruddy cheeks will alone 
be seen in the future. Rue and mastich are 
mixed and held in the hands while jumping 
over the fires, and are thrown on them to avert 
misfortune. 

At night pilao, in which slices of paste are 
mixed, is eaten ; and an earthenware jar of 
water, in which some copper coins have been 
thrown, is hurled into the street from the housetop. 

It is considered to be auspicious to keep all 
doors open ; and it is the custom to take a good 
or bad omen from any conversation that may be 
overheard, the listeners standing on a key, the 
symbol of opening, and listening with bated 
breath. 

If they hear such conversation as "Your 
place was. empty. We spent a happy night," 
they creep away highly pleased ; but, on the 
other hand, if they hear '* Allah forgive the 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

deceased, he was a good companion," or "His 
disease has become so serious that neither 
medicine nor prayer has any effect," they feel 
that the New Year will be inauspicious. 

Girls, too, who hope for marriage, are taken 
by a woman viullah to a place where four roads 
meet. There they sit with a lock fastened on to 
their dress and offer sweetmeats to passers-by. 
This is termed "Luck Opening," as every one who 
partakes of the sweetmeats first turns the key 
in the lock and thereby opens the way to good 
fortune for the damsel. 

The night before the f^te gifts of money are 
sewn up in small bags or wrapped in paper and 
presented on the fete day to each member of the 
family, and the poor are not forgotten. The 
bath is then visited and, after careful dyeing of 
the hair, the new clothes are donned. On this 
occasion every one cuts his nails and throws the 
parings into running water, thereby losing all 
bad luck. 

Upon returning home, two hours before the 
equinox, a white cloth is spread with seven 
articles, all of which commence with the letter 
" S," such as sirka or vinegar, sib or apple, etc. 
etc. All fruits, and more especially melons, 
which have been carefully preserved throughout 
the winter, are also set on the table, with sweet- 
meats and dried fruits. 

144 



THE PERSIAN NEW YEAR 

Eggs dyed red are also baked and eaten by 
all, the mother eating one for each of her 
offspring. Candles, to the number of the children 
in the house, are lighted, and, above all, a live 
fish is placed in a bowl which, when the new 
year begins, instinctively turns towards Mecca. 

Milk is kept boiling as a sign of abundance, 
a prayer carpet is spread, and the following 
prayer is repeated three hundred and sixty-six 
times : 

O the Turner of the hearts and eyes ! 

O the Lord of night and day ! 

O the Changer of conditions and dispositions^ 

Turn Thou our condition and better it. 

Gold coins and wheat are now held in the 
palm of the hand, as also the woodlouse, an 
insect which brings good luck ; and as the New 
Year commences, the sweetmeats and fruit are 
distributed, and every one gazes at the wood- 
louse for choice ; or, if not, at a narcissus, at 
water, or at red clothes. 

The gate of the house is shut an hour before 
the equinox, and no one is allowed to enter from 
outside ; but, as soon as the new year commences, 
the master of the house goes out into the street 
with some sweetmeats, and after having dis- 
tributed thena and walked about, he re-enters 
his house. 

Visiting and feasting are then the order of the 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

day ; and every woman who enters a house from 
outside must do so with her veil half-lifted, so 
that her eyes and eyebrows are visible ; only 
women who have come to wash a dead body 
enter closely veiled. 

People known to be unlucky, or those who 
bring ill luck to others, such as executioners or 
members of their families, are rigidly excluded on 
this day. In this connection there is the story 
told of Shah Abbas who, when starting on a 
hunting expedition which proved to be a failure, 
first looked at an ugly old man. 

Upon his return he sent for him, intending 
to kill him. The man asked why he should be 
doomed to die ; and the Shah said, " Because thy 
ill-omened visage has spoilt my hunting." The 
intended victim retorted, '*May I be thy Sacrifice! 
but thy visage will be still more ill-omened if it 
brings death with it." Upon hearing this. Shah 
Abbas laughed and dismissed the man with 
a gift. 

For twelve days no work is done, nor can any 
enterprise or journey be undertaken. On the 
thirteenth day the house is unswept, and every 
one goes outside and sits in the green wheat. If 
the house be not left absolutely empty, misfortune 
will take up its abode there. 

Before the day has set, it is most auspicious 
for ladies to pound up three peas' weight of 

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THE PERSIAN NEW YEAR 

pearls with sugar and swallow the mixture ; and 
every one who can afford it performs this rite. 
AUiamdulillah ! pearls are abundant in Persia, as 
they are found mainly in the Sea of Fars. 

I think that, in this brief account of No Ruz^ 
I have explained how every one, whether rich 
or poor, rejoices that the winter has passed, and 
that the time of flowers, of the glory of the 
gardens, and of the sweet song of the bulbul is 
approaching. As the poet Kaani wrote most 
beautifully : 

It is the New Year s Day. O SaJciy hand the cup round ; 
Do not heed the turn of the wheel and the revolution of the 
heavens. 

Turk, the sin ^ of the cup is enough for me on the New 

Year's day : 

1 do not care for the seven sin, as the dregs of ivine suffice 

for me. 
The people are talking of new clothes ; 
But I am longing for a cup of wine filled to the brim. 
Every one places sweetmeats on his tablecloth and utters 

prayers ; 
But I wish for abuse from thy sweet ruby lips. 
Every one holds silver and grains of wheat in his hands ; 
But I prefer the grain of the mole on thy silvery face. 
Pistachios and almonds are the relish of the festival for 

others : 
But, with thy lips and eyes, I do not want pistachios and 

almonds. 
Men bum Ud 2 on New Year's day, and I am lamenting like 

an Ud 

^ Sin is the letter *^S" as previously explained. 
^ Ud is aloes wood ; and the word also means a musical 
instrument. 

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For one who, with her black mole, will spoil Islam. 
People kiss each other and I am dying of grief ; 
Why should another kiss that sweet-lipped one ? 
Vinegar is placed on the tablecloth by every one ; 
And my beloved wrinkles her rosy face into vinegar with 
anger. 

At this season, too, it is customary to play 
games ; and, in every open space, both men and 
boys play leap-frog, rounders, tip-cat, and other 
games, while, outside the city, the sons of our 
Khans throw the javelin at full gallop, and then 
catch it as it rebounds from the ground. 

They also practise galloping past an egg 
placed on a little mound of earth ; and so perfect 
is the marksmanship of our best sowars that, with 
a single shot, they break this egg ; and it always 
makes me proud to think that the hearts of our 
enemies would be bigger than eggs, and that 
none of them could escape from the unerring 
bullets of the sowars of the victorious Shah. 

Now we also practise marksmanship on foot ; 
and one of the high officials of His Excellency 
used to throw up copper coins into the air, 
which were almost always hit by our Governor- 
General with his rifle. This official used to ask 
us courtiers to give two kran pieces for His 
Excellency to shoot at ; but we only saw copper 
coins used, and when we remonstrated, this 
astute individual always replied that it was his 
perquisite, and after all, he underwent much 

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. I . ,m P .. .'!■ 



THE PERSIAN NEW YEAR 

trouble in this business, as if the Governor- 
General were unsuccessful he always abused the 
official for throwing up the coins in a stupid 
fashion ; also, once or twice, the bullet passed 
just over his head ; and so there was danger in 
what he did. 

But, in my opinion, nothing that is done in 
the way of exercises at iVb Ruz is so important 
as the science of wrestling, in which we Kermanis 
surpass all Persians, just as Persians excel all 
other nations. Now I propose to give you some 
details about wrestling. 

The patron saint of pahlawans or wrestlers is 
Puriavali, who was a famous champion. He 
was, on one occasion, travelling to the capital 
to wrestle with the chief wrestler of the Shah, 
when, near the City Gate, he saw an old woman 
distributing sweetmeats. Inquiring the reason 
of this charity, the old woman replied that she 
was doing this to invoke the aid of the Imams to 
give her son, who was to wrestle with Puriavali 
on the morrow, victory over the latter, as she 
depended on him for her daily bread. 

On hearing this, Puriavali was so moved that 
he made a vow that he would constrain himself 
to be beaten by the son. Indeed, his inward 
eyes were opened, and he, at that instant, 
miraculously attained sanctity. 

On the morrow, when he closed with his rival, 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

he allowed himself to be thrown on his back in 
the first bout, to the great surprise of the 
spectators and to the intense indignation of his 
forty followers. When the contest was over, he 
informed the latter that they should leave him 
and go their ways, as his soul had attained a 
state of rest which he could not obtain by mere 
brute force ; and, from that day until he died, he 
led the life of a saint. 

The " House of Force " is a room with sitting 
places all round lighted by skylights. In the 
middle a six-sided pit is dug about seven feet 
deep. Dry bushes are brought and packed 
closely together, with their roots in the ground. 
A mat is spread over them, and soft earth or 
horse litter is heaped on to a height of a foot 
and a half. The surface is then trampled upon 
until it becomes soft and smooth. 

To the west of the pit the Murshid!s raised 
dais is set next to the entrance to the arena, 
which is purposely built so that persons entering 
it should be obliged to bend very low as a sign 
of humility. 

The Murshid sits on the dais and a bell 
attached to a chain hangs over his head. A 
feather is fastened to the bell in memory of any 
champion who learned his profession and attained 
fame in the school, just as Nadir Shah wore four 
feathers in his crown to show that he was 

150 



THE PERSIAN NEW YEAR 

monarch of Persia, India, Afghanistan, and 
Bokhara. A drum and a samovar are also placed 
on the dais. 

The Murshid is generally a dervish, who has 
devoted himself to the theoretical and spiritual 
side of wrestling, although sometimes he is a 
retired champion. He plays on the drum and 
recites verses while the pahlawaiis are exercising 
or wrestling, and at the end of the performance 
he distributes hot water and sugar. 

When a wrestler is about to enter the arena 
he kisses the threshold and salutes the Murshid^ 
** Peace be on thee, O Murshid'' The latter 
replies "Peace be on thee, O pahlawan^ Thou 
bringest blessing." The Murshid also swings 
the bell when the chief wrestler enters the arena. 
The pahlawan kisses the edge of the Murshid s 
dais and passes into the arena. He then puts on 
the wrestler's drawers, which he first kisses. 
They are made of stout cloth, and descend to 
below the knees, with leather knee-caps and a 
leather thong round the waist. 

The first exercise generally consists in passing 
the arms through two slabs of stone, each weigh- 
ing about 90 lbs. ; and, lying on the back, each 
slab is alternately raised by rolling the body 
to one side and then to the other. This is to 
strengthen the shoulders. 

Another exercise consists in " swimming " on 

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f 



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a board, during which the Murshid recites the 
poem beginning with : 

The Emperor of China had a daughter like a moon ; 
But who has seen a moon with two raven tresses ? 

After that clubs are brought in and the Murshid 
recites : 

The rose trees are in bud and the nightingales are intoxicated ; 
The world has attained its majority ; and lovers sit down to a 
feast. 

To conclude these preliminary exercises, each 
pahlawan in turns whirls round the pit 

I hope that by the above description I have 
explained how very perfect and complete are the 
exercises for wrestling in Persia ; and I now ask 
you to accompany me to see the match which 
had been the theme of conversation in Kerman 
since the autumn, for it then became known that 
the chief wrestler of the Shah, Isfandiar Beg, 
who was a Kermani, had, upon visiting his home, 
been challenged by the chief of the Kerman 
pahlawans^ AbduUa Beg, who had never been 
defeated. 

Three days before the match took place, a 
notice was posted up that there would be 
" Strewing of Roses " ; and, in honour of the 
announcement, all'the coffee houses and shops in 
the vicinity were gaily decorated, as indeed was 
the wrestling school, the pillars of which were 

152 



iiM" ^^ ^'atafPi^S'SSMBBfc 



* » » 






> * • 






THE PERSIAN NEW YEAR 

draped with valuable Kerman shawls. Flowers, 
too, were profusely displayed; but, on the 
MursMds dais, there was only the battle-axe, 
the horn and the begging bowl of the dervish, 
arranged on a lion's skin. Two peacocks' feathers, 
one in honour of each champion, were suspended 
over the bell. 

On the day of the match the ''House of Force" 
was filled from early dawn ; but it was not until 
two hours before sunset that His Excellency 
the Governor-General arrived and the Murshid 
asked permission to begin the contest. This 
being granted the two wrestlers were intro- 
duced ; and, by Allah, perhaps they were the two 
strongest men in the world. 

The Shah's wrestler, who was several years 
the older, appeared to be like a massive tower, 
in fact if anything too heavy. He had, however, 
the reputation of being very alert and quick of 
eye, and full of tricks. Indeed he was known by 
the sobriquet of " Tricky." 

Abdulla Beg, on the other hand, was as 
perfect as a picture and well proportioned. His 
head round and of medium size, his ears small, 
his eyes big, his nose straight, his face dry and 
fleshless, his neck long and thick, his chest 
broad and deep, showing his capacity to hold 
his breath. His arms were long, and, in the 
upper part, were three muscles termed ''little 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

fish " ; his forearms full, his wrists hard and 
fleshless, his fingers drawn and straight, his waist 
small, his thighs full, the calves of his legs 
muscular and showing great development, and 
his feet arched. Indeed, he was so perfect a 
man that every one burst into acclamations of 
surprise and praise. 

The respected head of the quarter, who was 
a Sayyid^ and himself an old wrestler, first 
addressed the champions, and warned them not 
to bear malice against one another ; he then 
joined their hands and the wrestling began, after 
the permission of the Murshid had been received, 
and the latter then recited : 

ft 

Puriavali said that the quarry is in my lasso. 
And that by the help of David my fortmie is high. 
If however thou thirstest for grace, learn humility. 
Because land which is high can never receive water. ^ 

Then he broke into reciting the "Flower of 
Wrestling," beginning, 

In valour and bravery thou art the bravest in the world : 
In the presence of thy cypress-like body, the cypress itself 
has no worth. 

The moment the hands of these two pahlawans 
had touched one another, they sprang in opposite 
directions, each taking up a position. Abdulla 
Beg, full of pride, would stand erect whilst his 
opponent was bending his body and was looking 

^ This refers to land cultivated by means of irrigation. 

156 



- ^ -^-^ 



THE PERSIAN NEW YEAR 

exactly like a fighting cock. Then they began 
to move round and round, always on the look-out 
to secure an advantage over the other. Now 
they closed and again they separated. Then 
they put one hand on the back of the neck of 
the other. 

The Shalis pahlawan at this point being more 
alert than AbduUa Beg, bent down and, dodging 
his head under AbduUa Beg's left arm, was, in the 
twinkling of an eye, behind his back; but the 
latter finally shook him off. Both men received 
applause for the skill and strength shown in 
this bout. 

Again they closed and again they separated. 
The fourth time, Abdulla Beg got behind his 
opponent, and seizing the leather belt, tried to 
roll him on his back. The Shah's wrestler, in 
turning suddenly, thrust his fingers into the eyes 
of Abdulla Beg, whereupon the latter throwing 
him on the ground, pressed with his chest on 
Isfandiar Beg's back and head so furiously that, 
in two or three places, his adversary's skin was 
rubbed off. The Shah's wrestler then bit 
Abdulla Beg's hand ; and the latter bit the 
other's ears. 

Blood began to flow and the spectators became 
excited, and the Governor-General, seeing that 
it was not fair play, ordered his head farrash to 
separate the combatants. They would, however, 

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not separate ; so other farrashes were called in, 
and, by dint of beating both the men, they 
separated them. 

The spectators were now thoroughly excited, 
some taking the side of the one and some of 
the other ; and a wealthy young merchant from 
Tehran, who was backing Isfandiar Beg for a 
large sum, became so furious that he drew his 
revolver. The Governor-General abused him 
and told his men to take it away, which was 
done. 

After some words of advice from the Governor- 
General and the old Sayyicl^ the two pahlawans 
took up exactly the same position as at first, and 
a really fine display of wrestling now commenced. 
It was evident to every one that AbduUa Beg 
was gradually getting the better of his opponent, 
who had lost his wind. He was, in fact, turning 
him by sheer force on to his back, and the 
onlookers believed that he had won when a 
miracle happened ; and, before we could collect 
our senses, we saw Abdulla Beg lying flat on 
his back. 

It happened in this way. When Abdulla 
Beg was attempting to overturn his adversary, 
the Shah's pahlawan got hold of one of his legs 
with his locked hands and began to turn round 
and round, when, all of a sudden, pulling the leg 
inwards and throwing his weight against Abdulla 

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THE PERSIAN NEW YEAR 

Beg, he overturned him. This was one of those 
tricks which wrestlers are encouraged to practise 
in the great cities. 

The spectators now got up and all was 
confusion, some crying that the pahlawans must 
wrestle again, others shouting that the match 
was over, until the Governor-General threatened 
to take strong measures, when comparative calm 
was restored. 

His Excellency then summoned the two 
pahlawans to his presence, and remarked that 
both had done very well ; he presented a shawl 
to each man, and, as Abdulla Eeg's arms had not 
been tattooed, he ordered that a lion should be 
tattooed on his right arm in memory of this 
great contest. 

The spectators, too, gave gifts of money, and 
the merchant from Tehran made peace between 
the two champions and invited them both to a 
feast, where he compared the Shah's wrestler to 
Rustam, and Abdulla Beg to Sohrab, and pleased 
them both by quoting : 

Two Forces, two Arms, and two bold heroes ; 
One a dragon and the other a lion. 
Two fierce tigers or two colossal elephants ; 
Or two skilful wrestlers. 
They began to wrestle, 
Holding each other by the waist. 
They pressed each other so hard 
That breathing became difficult for them. 
Several blows were exchanged with such vindictiveness : 

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That the earth quaked beneath their feet. 

Each again caught hold of the other. 

The one like a lion and the other like a leopard ; 

Both tried their best. 

But neither would own defeat. 

Each one attempted to overpower the other. 

And the desert became muddy with blood. 

The wrestUng of these two heroes was such 

That the names of Kustam and Sohrab were forgotten. 




t <l^l> OYh ^^ ' 



CHAPTER X 



Hafiz. 



THE PILGRIMAGE IS VOWED 

From thy soul, kiss the grave of the 

Eighth Imam, Riza, the Sultan 

Of the Religion ; and remain 

At the Gate of that Court. 

Hafiz. 

Many years had elapsed since the events narrated 

in the last two chapters. Among other things, 

the second Vakil-ul-Mulk, may Allah forgive 

him ! had died, and a Governor-General, who was 

a stranger to Kerman, had been appointed. 

During the previous winter a comet, which 

always portends calamity, had appeared. There 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

had been very little snow or rain, and in the 
spring the scanty crops were eaten up by 
locusts. The result was that wheat which, the 
year before, had been sold for four tomans a 
kharwar^ now fetched eighteen tomans. In 
short, famine had fallen on the province. 

Had the Vakil-ul-Mulk been alive, he would 
have sent a thousand camels to Sistan at his own 
expense to bring wheat to the city ; but the new 
Govern or- General only cut off the ears of the 
bakers when they sold their bread, made chiefly 
from millet, dear, and finally baked the chief 
baker alive in his own oven. 

Allah knows that bakers in Persia are scamps, 
but this action produced no good result, as all 
the merchants who would have sent money to 
buy wheat from the other provinces were afraid 
that it would be seized by the mamurs, whom the 
Governor-General placed on every road, and who 
made matters worse, as they beat the camel- 
drivers and stopped the caravans until they 
received money ; and so even dates and rice 
were not sent to Kerman, which was like a city 
besieged by enemies. 

At last, however. His Excellency removed 

the mamurs^ and then rice and dates reached the 

bazaar ; but during that summer people mainly 

lived on fruit, which is a most unwholesome diet. 

To add to our calamities cholera broke out 

162 



THE PILGRIMAGE IS VOWED 

in the province. In the spring travellers had 
brought it from Baghdad to Tehran, whence it 
had reached holy Meshed. However, owing to 
the healthiness of Kerman and its distance from 
Meshed, it seemed probable that it would escape 
this calamity ; but Allah, the Omnipotent, no 
doubt wished to punish us for our sins ; and a 
returning pilgrim died of cholera at a village 
only one stage from Kerman. 

This, too, need not have infected our beloved 
city, but his clothes were brought in and washed 
in a stream which passes through the gardens 
inhabited by the Gabrs. 

It happened that there was a wedding that 
night at the house of Arbab Shahriar, the chief 
of the tribe ; and before morning, the bridegroom, 
the bride, and seventeen of the guests were 
infected, all of whom died. 

There is no place for pleasure between the Earth and the 

Heaven ; 
How can a grain escape from between two mill-stones ? 

When this calamity was known in the city, it 
became a Day of Judgment ; and everybody fled 
who could. Now, although we Iranis are noted 
for our bravery in battle, I must confess that all 
of us, owing to our highly-strung nerves, which 
are the result of living in a very dry climate, fear 
the cholera, as if an attack of it were tantamount 

to the Angel of Death knocking at the door. 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

Even our noble Governor-General fled to a 
valley, where he posted his troops down below, 
to prevent any one from passing them ; and he 
himself, with one servant, camped above near a 
tiny spring, and threatened to shoot any one who, 
on any pretence whatever, approached him. 

The Vizier, too, was equally afraid ; and, as 
he had heard that cholera never attacked people 
underground, he took refuge in a disused well 
and remained there for forty days. Since the 
Doctor Sahib y who laughed at us for being 
afraid without reason, and attended the sick 
throughout, informed me that by boiling all 
water and only eating cooked food, all cause of 
fear would be removed, I remained at Kerman 
with my family. Another reason for this was 
that my garden in the Bagh-i-Zirisf was watered 
by its own water channel. 

However, many of my servants, acting against 
the Prophet's tradition, which runs, " At the out- 
break of an epidemic abide where ye are, as 
fleeing from a place is to escape from death to 
death," fled to their homes and, later, I heard 
that all had died on the road, whereas, praise be 
to Allah, no one in my family, or indeed in the 
Bagh-i-Zirisf, was attacked. 

After a month the cholera ceased in Kerman, 
but was raging in the adjoining villages ; so the 
Governor-General, who had been sternly ordered 

164 



THE PILGRIMAGE IS VOWED 

by the Shah to return to his post, and had been 
informed that he was considered to be the 
shepherd of the people, now gave orders that no 
one should enter Kerman without undergoing 
quarantine. 

This, by Allah ! was very astute, as the winter 
was setting in, and all the muUahSy Khans^ and 
merchants gladly paid large sums of money to be 
allowed to return to their homes. 

The English laughed at them ; but, in truth, 
it is not that the English are braver than we 
Iranis. Allah forbid ! I have read that their 
country is so wet and so foggy that their ideas 
come very slowly in consequence ; and so they 
do not realise dangers as quickly as we Iranis. 
I represented this to the Doctor Sahib^ who 
laughed immoderately, and said, " By Allah, that 
is the reason the French give for our defeating 
Napoleon I " 

Now I had vowed a solemn vow that if the 
Imam^ on Him be Peace ! protected me and my 
family during this awful calamity, I would hasten 
to prostrate myself at his threshold. Con- 
sequently, when every one had returned and had 
congratulated me on my phenomenal courage, I 
explained the matter to them, and more especially 
to Mahmud Khan, who had occasionally stated 
that he too wished to participate in this grace. 

Now I have not hitherto mentioned Mahmud 

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Khan, who was among the great people of 
Kerman, and who was a relation of my family. 
When a youth he had entered the college which 
Nasir-u-Din Shah, may Allah keep cool his 
Grave! had, at that time, recently opened in 
order to teach the young princes and Khans all 
European learning. 

Mahmud Khan, however, so they say, was 
very stupid, and, after six months, the professors 
represented to the Shah that they had beaten 
him daily, imprisoned him, and indeed tried to 
teach him by every possible means, but in vain ; 
and they had all sealed a declaration to the effect 
that he was incapable of receiving instruction. 

The Shah,'^upon hearing this, reflected for a 
while and then said, " As thou art proved to be 
incapable of receiving instruction, it is better that 
thou returnest to thy home. Perhaps there 
thou wilt learn to distinguish between wheat 
and barley. Thou art dismissed." 

This happened many years ago ; and as 
Mahmud Khan inherited twenty villages in 
the districts of Bardsir and Rafsinjan, and spent 
his whole time in looking after them, he became 
very rich. 

Another thing aided this, namely, that he 
was miserly and would not have thrown a bone 
to the dog of the Seven Sleepers. Thanks be 

to Allah, we Iranis are, as a rule, very liberal, 

166 



THE PILGRIMAGE IS VOWED 

and we fully agree with Shaykh Sadi who 
wrote : 

Generosity will be the harvest of life. 
Freshen the heart of the world by generosity ; 
For ever be steadfast in generosity ; 
Since the Creator of the soul is beneficent. 

But Mahmud Khan was so miserly that his 
horses were always hungry, so much so that one 
of them once attacked a man dressed in a green 
coat, thinking it was fodder ! Also he kept the 
key of the storeroom himself, and every day 
gave out a very little butter and a very little 
rice for the daily food of himself and servants. 
Indeed, had he not been very stupid, no servant 
would have remained in his service. 

Yet he was most fond of Europeans, and was 

the first Khan to be friendly to the Doctor 

Sahib. Indeed, he promised to give him land 

on which to build a hospital, and for three days 

he rode to his numerous gardens with the Sahib^ 

and asked him to decide which one he considered 

to possess the most suitable air for the purpose. 

However, he finally settled that he could not 

give any of his land, and so the matter remained, 

although occasionally His Excellency the 

Governor-General used to say in jest, " Well, 

Mahmud Khan, when is the hospital going to 

be built ? " And he replied, " I beg to represent 

that I am busy with the matter." 

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One day His Excellency informed the Khan 
that he wished to be his guest in his garden, and, 
although Mahmud Khan knew exactly what was 
right to do in such cases, he was too avaricious 
to incur the necessary expenditure. His Excel- 
lency was not pleased, and when in the after- 
noon he called together all the Khans^ he turned 
the conversation on to the subject of avarice 
and miserliness, by saying that he had recently 
heard of a merchant of Isfahan, who was so 
mean that he ate his bread dry, and only took 
enough butter to cover the tip of a needle with 
the last mouthful. He added that he doubted 
whether any one could be more miserly than 
that. 

Shaykh Ahmad, however, represented that 
he knew of a man who, every day, took a 
handkerchief to the grocer and bought a little 
flour, which he afterwards returned, complaining 
that it was mouldy. At the same time some 
flour stuck to the handkerchief, which he was 
careful not to shake ; and, by doing this at 
several shops, he collected enough flour for a 
loaf of bread, and this he cooked himself 
with bits of bushes which dropped off the 
donkey-loads as they passed through the bazaars. 
For relish, he went about and sat down where 
he could smell the cooking of the kabobs in the 
coffee - houses. His Excellency agreed that 

170 



'i*^tmmmBmm9Bf^?'ie?^r^SSSm 



THE PILGRIMAGE IS VOWED 

Shaykh Ahmad had given even a better example 
than his own. 

Abu Turab Khan then represented that he 
had heard of a still worse case of a rich merchant 
of Yezd, who only allowed each member of his 
family a piece of dry bread to eat. One day 
his daughter, who was very beautiful, but whom 
no one would marry on account of the father s 
evil reputation, took compassion on a poor old 
beggar and gave him her piece of bread. 

Her mother, in the kindness of her heart, 
recommended that the girl should be given 
another piece, but the father, hearing what had 
happened, became like a madman, and not only 
cut off his daughter's right hand, but turned her 
out of the house into the streets of the town. 

The poor girl wandered about, not knowing 
where to go, when she was seen by the Governor- 
General, who was returning from a hunting ex- 
pedition. Moved by her beauty and innocence, 
he took her to his women's apartments and, 
seeing the nobility of her disposition, finally 
married her to his son. 

On the wedding night the bride placed a 

bowl of sherbet before her husband with her 

left hand, and he, feeling shocked at- this lack 

of good manners, quitted the room to complain 

to his mother. Meanwhile the girl prostrated 

herself on the ground, crying out, ** O Allah ! 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

why dost Thou suffer a creature to be 
humiliated for want of a hand which performed 
a good deed for Thy sake ? Either restore my 
hand or strike me dead." 

The bridegroom, who had now for the first 
time heard from his mother of the noble act of 
the girl, returned, when the bowl of sherbet was 
again set before him by the bride, and this time 
with her right hand, which Allah the Omnipotent 
had restored. The youth was amazed, and 
prostrated himself to thank Allah for giving him 
as a wife a maiden who had received such a 
signal favour from heaven. 

The next day the miserly merchant was 
summoned, and, as he could offer no excuse 
for his barbarous conduct, he was sentenced 
to have both his hands cut off and to be killed 
by having food rammed down his throat. His 
daughter, however, interceded for him and he 
was pardoned, and it is stated that he repented, 
and, proceeding on a pilgrimage, died on the 
way. 

After this His Excellency said nothing, and 
when he rose up to leave, it was evident that 
he was displeased with his host to whom he 
showed no kindness. The result was bad for 
Mahmud Khan, as, after His Excellency had 
finished his repast, his servants broke all the 
dishes, including four china sherbet bowls 

172 



THE PILGRIMAGE IS VOWED 

which had been in the Khans family for many 
generations. As Naushirwan the Just truly 
said : 

The slave who is bought and sold is freer than the miser : 
For the slave may one day be free, but the miser never. 

Mahmud Khan was of a very powerful build 
and wore long moustaches, which, when he 
twisted them, made him look very fierce ; and 
indeed he was noted for his bravery, as, on one 
occasion, he rode alone after a band of seven 
Afshar robbers and killed three of them. 

Another story, too, he used to tell, which 
was that, one evening, he was in the mountains 
and just finishing his prayers, when a leopard 
attacked him, but with one blow from his sword 
he cut off its head, which he nailed up over his 
gate, just as lovers of sport fasten the skulls 
and horns of wild sheep. 

The Khan informed me that he had decided 
to take Ali Khan, his son-in-law, with him. 
Now this youth, unlike his father-in-law, was 
very small and slight, so that he was sometimes 
compared to a sparrow. He was one of the 
Khans of Bam, and his ancestor rendered a 
great service to the Kajar dynasty by seizing 
Lutf Ali Khan, Zand. This proud warrior 
held Kerman for many months against the 
might of Aga Mohamed Shah, whose entrench- 
ments are still standing ; biit, seeing that there 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

was no hope except in flight, he escaped from 
the city and fled to Bam, where he was seized 
and thrown into chains. 

Ali Khan, on this account, and also because 
he owned much property in Narmashir, where 
the best henna in the world grows, was very 
proud and quick-tempered, but yet the Khans 
of Kerman, if not as rich as those of Bam, 
always consider themselves .nobler and higher, 
and it was deemed a great honour for Ali 
Khan to become the son-in-law of Mahmud 
Khan. 

When this important question had been 
decided, we had many meetings and discussions 
as to what date we should start on, and what 
route would be the best to follow. We soon 
agreed that a few days after the festival of 
JVo Ru% would be a suitable date, but it was 
very difficult to fix on the route. 

The direct track lies across the Great Desert 
for half the distance, and Mahmud Khan said 
that he wished to travel that way because he 
hoped one day to construct a road by which 
pilgrims could drive to the Sacred Gity. At 
this, Ali Khan, who was, in truth, a light youth, 
laughed behind Mahmud Khan's back, and 
whispered that he was not likely to have leisure 
from building the hospital to devote to con- 
structing a road. 

174 



THE PILGRIMAGE IS VOWED 

We finally persuaded Mahmud Khan to 
travel by Yezd, as to that important city the 
road is good, and the desert is only fifty farsakhs 
wide at this point. Moreover, I represented 
to him that by travelling this way he would 
be able to visit his villages in Rafsinjan ; but 
what made him finally agree was that I said 
forage and food were much cheaper by the 
Yezd route, and tjiat in Rafsinjan he would 
obtain everything free of cost. 

Thus he agreed, and for the next four months 
we were buSy making all the necessary arrange- 
ments, buying mules and horses, and also the 
necessary outfit. The most difficult point was 
to settle which servants to take and which to 
leave behind, as they represented that it would 
be an act of merit on my part to arrange for 
them all to go. 

However, that too was ultimately arranged 
by Rustam Beg stating that he had already been 
twice to Meshed, and that he would not feel 
happy if any one but himself was left in charge 
of the house and property, but that he did not 
require any other personal servant to stay behind 
with him. 

It remains to refer to the religious exercises 
to which we delivered ourselves before starting 
on this solemn pilgrimage. Each of us, in turn, 
held a meeting at which the calamities ex- 

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perienced by Ali, Husein, and the other holy 
Imams were recited. 

The black-hearted people who slew the offspring of the 

Prophet with malice ; 
They claim to belong to the religion but murder the Lord 

of the Religion ; 
They commit to memory the Koran and draw the sword, 

reciting the chapter Taha ; 
They wear the Yasin chapter as an amulet ; but murder the 

acknowledged Imam. 

Afterwards, we entertained our relatives and 
friends at luncheon and received gifts for the 
road, such as tea cups, tea, and other such useful 
presents. 

In short, owing to the arrangements which 
had to be made and these meetings, the winter 
passed very quickly, after which there was very 
little leisure left before the actual day of 
starting. 



CHAPTER XI 



YEZD, THE PRISON OF ALEXANDER 



1 was afraid of the Prison of Alexander ; 
And fled to the Country of Solomon.' 



Again the joyous festival of No Ruz came 
round, and when its thirteen days were passed 
it was high time to beat the drum of departure. 
At last the Chief Astrologer pronounced a cer- 
tain Thursday to be a propitious date, and that 
evening, accompanied by hundreds of relatives 
and friends, we started for a garden which is 
situated about a,farsakh from beautiful Kerman. 
It may be thought that this was a very short 
stage for travellers who had such a long journey 
before them ; but the fact is that we Persians 
have more experience of travelling than any 
other nation, and so we understand that on such 
occasions much is invariably left behind. In 



THE SHIA WORLD 

truth, upon reaching the garden every servant 
found that he had forgotten something; and, 
but for this custom of ours, termed "Change of 
Place," our position would have been difficult. 

I have not mentioned that, as soon as it was 
known that some of the leading inhabitants of 
Kerman were about to undertake the pilgrimage, 
at least fifty of our fellow-citizens decided to 
accompany us ; and as it is a pious deed to 
facilitate pilgrimages, we agreed to allow them 
our protection on the road. 

The following day we marched a full stage, 
and the third day brought us to Kakh, the chief 
village of the district of Khinaman ; it is a very 
ancient village, so much so that I have read 
that it supplied to the armies of the Sasanian 
monarchs seven intrepid warriors mounted on 
bulls. Its Governor besought us to halt a day ; 
but Mahmud Khan refused, and, on the fourth 
day after starting on this journey of grace, 
we entered the district of Rafsinjan, which is 
renowned for its pistachio nuts and almonds. 
Indeed, so delicate are the shells of the latter 
that they are known as " paper." 

Mahmud Khan insisted on our halting for 
two days while he visited his villages, and, as 
the Governor of Rafsinjan was a well-known 
Khan of Kerman, it was very agreeable to stay 
there in his service, and to give him the latest 

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YEZD, THE PRISON OF ALEXANDER 

news of His Excellency the Governor-General 
and of Kerman. 

Husein Ali Khan had ruled Rafsinjan for over 
twenty years, in fact ever since he had rendered 
a signal service to the Shah by killing a rebel 
Buchakchi chief. This wild bandit for a long 
time refused to visit the Klmn and make his 
submission ; but, at last, the latter sent him a 
Koran sealed with his seal, and the promise that, 
so long as he was on the earth, no harm should 
happen to him. The Buchakchi, upon seeing 
the Koran and hearing the promise, finally came 
into Rafsinjan ; but the Khan^ who was very 
astute, sat in a specially prepared pit under- 
ground, and, being thus freed from his oath, 
shot the bandit who had killed hundreds of 
travellers. To reward him for this great service 
the title of " Amir of Amirs " was bestowed upon 
the Khan^ who, a few years later, again showed 
immense capacity in the art of government. 

It happened that one of the Hindus, of whom 
there are several at Kerman, was robbed and 
murdered in the Rafsinjan district ; and the 
English Consul Sahib sent repeated telegrams to 
the English Legation, with the result that every 
day fresh orders came from the Minister of the 
Interior for the murderers of this Hindu to be 
caught and punished ; there was also a threat of 

dismissal unless this was done quickly. 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

Now all the while the Governor knew who 
the robbers were, but he did not wish to show 
great severity, as, after all, the killing of a 
Hindu was not a great crime. However, he 
was obliged to seize the men and informed the 
Consul Sahib of the fact, and that he was ready 
to have them executed. But that official, who 
had been hard throughout, to his surprise re- 
fused to have the men executed without proofs 
of their guilt. 

The "Amir of Amirs" pondered for a while, 
and then asked the interpreter of the Consulate 
to go into an adjoining room and expect the 
proof desired by the Sahib. The prisoners were 
now brought in, and all the farrashes were dis- 
missed. 

The Khan then spoke most affectionately 
to them and said, '*0 my brethren, we are all 
Mussulmans, and I, like you, rejoice at the death 
of this infidel, may his soul remain in Hell ! I 
have dismissed all my servants that I might 
secretly congratulate you ; and I wish to know 
to whom the most credit in this meritorious 
deed is due." Hearing this, Iskandar Khan 
replied : " Praise be to the Allah, we were all 
partners in this pious deed. Ibrahim Khan 
seized the Hindu, AbduUa Khan held his donkey, 
and I shot the infidel, and Allah knows he bled 
like a pig." 

180 



YEZD, THE PRISON OF ALEXANDER 

No sooner had he finished than the Governor 
called out " Bacha 1 " ^ and, when his farrashes 
returned, he asked the interpreter if he was at 
last satisfied of the guilt of the prisoners, and, 
upon his replying in the affirmative, he ordered 
the executioner to take them to the Great 
Square and execute them. That dread official 
afterwards mentioned that the men were as if 
in a dream, and never seemed to realise what 
was happening, so simple were they that they 
could not understand the astuteness of a high 
Persian official. 

Upon leaving Rafsinjan we rode to visit the 
famous " Well of the World." It is a mighty 
chasm in the desert, and a great river flows 
beneath it. They say that every year many 
camels, sheep, and goats tumble into it and are 
carried away, so great is its force. One day 
this water, if Allah wishes, will be used for 
cultivating the waste land of Rafsinjan, and 
indeed it resembles an untouched gold mine. 

The next place of importance on our journey 
was Anar, which contains a shrine dedicated to 
Mohamed Salih bin Musa Kazim. In it is a 
Koran stand, made of sandal wood, in which 
ivory is inlaid, and it is so beautifully carved 
that the work of to-day is nothing in comparison. 

^ Lit. " Boy." Servants in Persia are invariably summoned in 
this manner. 

181 



THE SHIA WORLD 

The Governor at the time was Murtaza Kuli 
Khan, Afshar, who was appointed to this, a 



frontier district of the province, as the Lashanis 
and other Fars tribes all feared him because of 
his cruelty. It is related that once, when riding 



YEZD, THE PRISON OF ALEXANDER 

near Anar, he saw a child tumble into a mill-race. 
One of his servants galloped forward to save it, 
but he shouted out, " Stop and let us see what 
wuU happen." Thus, by his lack of humanity, he 
deprived a poor widow of her only son whom 
she relied on to provide bread for her old age, 
when he grew up. 

The day before our arrival he had committed 
a still more terrible deed. One of the leading 
landowners had some months before complained 
of his tyrannical behaviour, and the Governor- 
General had rebuked him for oppressing the 
people he ruled. Upon receiving this message 
from Kerman, he had summoned the landowner 
and addressed him as follows: **Thou art the 
first man who has been brave enough to complain 
of me to the Governor-General, and thy heart 
must be different from other men's hearts." He 
then roared out to the Chief Executioner, " Take 
out his heart and let me see it." The bloody 
order was instantly carried out, yet even this 
did not sate his fury for vengeance, for he also 
refused to allow the corpse to be buried. 

As a result of this terrible outrage the whole 
population of Anar had taken sanctuary at the 
Telegraph Office, the wires of which terminate 
at the *' Foot of the Throne." 

At first the tekgraphchi, who received fifty 
tomans every month as a gift from the Governor, 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

refused to send their petitions either to Tehran 
or to Kerman, so the villagers threatened him 
and his family with instant death. Upon this 
he complied, and he explained afterwards that he 
really intended to help them all the time, as he 
was horrified at the crime ; but he feared that, 
unless he could plead that his life was threatened, 
the savage Governor might kill him too. 

Glory be to Allah I no sooner was the state of 
affairs explained than most severe orders came 
for Murtaza Kuli Khan to proceed by post to 
Kerman, where he met with the punishment 
he deserved. By Allah ! I think that he was 
really mad. 

Three stages of desert with salt water had 
now to be traversed, and Mahmud Khan narrated 
to us that this desert was haunted by vampires, 
who attack men overcome by sleep, and drain 
their life-blood by licking the soles of their feet. 
He added that, some years ago, two muleteers 
whom he knew lost their way in a storm in this 
very desert, and finally, being utterly tired out, 
were obliged to go to sleep until the morning. 
They were much afraid of the vampire; but, 
being clever Kermanis, they decided to lie 
down feet to feet and so fell asleep. Shortly 
afterwards the dreaded vampire came upon 
them, and began to prowl round them to discover 
their feet ; but at each end it found a head. 

184 



YEZD, THE PRISON OF ALEXANDER 

In despair it fled, exclaiming : 

I have wandered through one thousand 

Six hundred and sixty-six valleys. 

But nowhere have I seen a two-headed man. 

With such stories did we pass the time on these 
three stages, in which the water is so salt that to 
drink it causes nausea ; but yet it is impossible 
for the sons of Adam to exist without water, 
and so we consoled ourselves by feeling that the 
greater our privations the greater the merit of 
our pilgrimage ; and I quoted : 

Consider hardship as ease if the matter be important. 

Upon hearing this every one became happy, and 
the desert stages were quickly passed. 

Throughout the journey Ali Khan was 
always trying to shoot partridges ; but he was 
not a good shot ; and when, at last, he brought 
one into the stage, and with much pride 
presented it to Mahmud Khan, the latter 
exclaimed, " Of course it was sick." 

At last we reached the province of Yezd, and 
that night we halted but a short stage from one 
of the famous cities of Iran. 

Yezd was the first city of our mighty empire 
other than Kerman which I had visited, and, by 
Allah, well does it merit its reputation of having 
served as a prison house in which Iskandar 
imprisoned his enemies, the refractory Divs. 

185 



THE SHIA WORLD 

Indeed, when approaching it, I was assured that 
the city was quite close ; this, however, I could 
not believe, as all I saw was a hideous desert of 
sandhills, a fit abode for Ghouls and Afrits, but 
nothing else. 

Even as this thought came into my mind a 



dreadful wind began to blow, and everything was 
black as night However, we rode on like brave 
Persians and dimly saw two high towers, which, 
had I not been possessed of much wisdom, I 
should infallibly have mistaken for a castle built 
by the Divs. At last some mean mud garden 
walls appeared, and riding between them, we had 
entered Yezd. 



YEZD, THE PRISON OF ALEXANDER 

Yezd is indeed an unfortunate town, as, after 
having served as a prison to Iskandar, it was 
founded as a city by Yezdigird, whose evil title 
was "the Sinner." Indeed so wicked was he 
that Allah the Omnipotent did not permit him 
to die an ordinary death ; but, when he visited 
the sacred lake of Su, in the mountains of 
Nishapur, a white horse suddenly appeared out 
of the lake, kicked the monarch so that he died, 
and then as suddenly disappeared in the waters 
of the lake. 

To come down to later times, too, my father, 
may Allah forgive him 1 I well remember used to 
mention how that when Fath Ali Shah was the 
Sign of the power of Allah, and Yezd had the 
honour of being ruled by Mohamed Ali Mirza^ 
one of his sons, a certain Abdur Razzak Khan, 
not only rebelled, but insulted and outraged the 
Prince's family. However, Abbas Mirza^ the 
Rustam of his age, seized the criminal, who was 
handed over to Mohamed Ali Mirza. He, a true 
drinker of blood, with one stroke of his victorious 
sword smote off the accursed rebel's head. 

The Yezdis are so cowardly that nowadays 
no soldiers are drawn from the population, and, 
indeed, what can be expected of a people which 
lives in a country of sandhills, where even the 
milk cannot be drunk, as it both tastes and 
smells so strongly of cotton seed, on which alone 

187 



THE SHIA WORLD 

the cows are kept alive ? It was a regiment of 
Yezdis who, after returning from the conquest 
of India, asked the great Nadir to give them an 
escort to see them to their home. But yet, 
although entirely lacking in manliness, the 
Yezdis are good weavers, and some of the silk 
they manufacture is esteemed highly in Persia, 
although, of course, it is not as famous as the 
shawls of Kerman. 

Sad to say it was a Yezdi who introduced 
smoking opium among us, and, alas for Iran 1 
why has this calamity befallen us ? Allah 
knows but I would blow from a gun those who 
introduced this accursed habit. 

First of all, the opium is smoked with char- 
coal ; then the miserable man ever craves for 
something stronger, until he smokes opium once 
burnt, and thereby concentrated, in an old, much 
used pipe which is heated over a lamp. 

The Doctor Sahib told me that whenever a 
mullah attacked him for holding the religion of 
Hazrat Isa, on Him be Peace ! he invariably 
replied that rather than that there should be 
divisions among the ** Possessors of a revealed 
book," it was better for the entire strength of 
both religions to be exerted to stop this calamity. 
And by Allah this is true, as Hafiz says : 

If grief should array its army to shed the lover s blood, 
I and the Saki will unite to destroy grief. 

188 



YEZD, THE PRISON OF ALEXANDER 

The ruler of Yezd was one of the princes of 
the Royal family who, when I was honoured by 
appearing in his presence, showed me particular 
notice, and said, " Thou art well known to me, 
NuruUah Khan, by thy poems. Inshallah ! while 
thou remainest at Yezd thou art my guest." 

In truth, not only was I treated with great 
distinction, but before we left the Master of 
Horse of His Highness brought me a beautiful 
Arab horse with its tail dyed scarlet, thereby 
showing that it came from the royal stables. 
In return, I wrote a panegyric on the horse 
and His Highness, who, I afterwards heard, said 
that his name would, on this account, never be 
forgotten in Iran. It ran as follows : 

Bravo the Charger with hoofs like Shabdiz ^ and a head like 

Rakhsh,! 
Awaji 2 on the dam's side, whose sire was Yahmum.^ 
Sometimes he is like a bird in gliding and a snake in twisting ; 
Sometimes he dances like a pheasant and bounds like a ball. 
An alligator in the sea and a leopard on the mountain. 
A crane in the air and a peacock in the street. 
He gallops without urging or inciting. 
Fieiy as the angel of fire : and in water like a duck. 
His muscles are tight like a bow-string, his sinews like armour, 

and his mouth well-shaped. 
His head a date palm, his tail a cord, his flanks of stone and 

his hoofs sharp-edged. 
A late sleeper but an early riser, fleet and far-seeing ; 

^ Shabdiz was the famous charger of Khusru Parviz and Rakhsh, 
the equally famous charger of Rustam^ as mentioned in Chapter IT. 

^ Awaji and Yahmum are a mare atid horse respectively^ 
renowned in Arab poetry. 

189 



THE SHIA WORLD 

Easy to handle, a good goer ; well-behaved and well-bred, 
Hard -footed, tough -thighed, straight -legged and round - 

hoofed. 
Sharp-eared, flat-backed, smooth-skinned and short-haired. 
Fleet as the clouds, swift as the wind : in thunder like 

lightning and also in his stride. 
Destroyer of mountains. Splitter of storms. Scaler of cliffs and 

Discoverer of roads. 
With legs of a wild ass, liver of a lion, pace of a leopard and 

the determination of a racer : 
Throat of an elephant, breast of a rhinoceros : the jump of an 

ibex and the disposition of a wolf. 
Sharp-eyed, iron-livered, steel-hearted and hard-lipped : 
With teeth of silver, nostril like a well, throat like a tube, 

and a brow like a tablet. 
Spear, sword, lasso, battle-axe, arrow and bow 
Are his neck, ear, tail, hoof, mouth and leg. 
The Governor has given me such a horse without a saddle. 
Such a horse is like a jar without a handle. 

That night the Master of Horse again came 
with a message from His Highness to the effect 
that he had originally given orders for one of his 
own saddles with gold trappings to be sent with 
the horse, and that he hoped the negligence of 
his servants would be forgiven. He asked me 
to inspect the holsters, in which I found a pair 
of gold-mounted pistols, and, overwhelmed at 
the munificence of the noble Kajar prince, I 
exclaimed, '' By Allah ! Hatim Tai has returned 
to life." 



190 



CHAPTER Xll 

ROBBED IN THE LUT 

Therefore we delivered Lot aiid his family. 
Except hie wife ; she was one of those 
Who stayed behind : Hiid we rained 
A shower of stones upon them . . ■ and 
We turned those cities upside down. 

The KoTon. 

We liad reached Yezd on the sixth day of the 
sacred month of Muharram ; and this we had 
purposely intended, as, being pilgrims, we were 
especially bound to take part in this sad 
anniversary. In a previous chapter I referred 
very briefly to the difference between us Shias 
and the Sunnis. I will now give further details, 
as, indeed, I then promised. 

We know that when, for the last time, 
Mohamed, on Him and on his family he Peace ! 
performed the pilgrimage, known as the Fare- 
well Pilgrimage, the angel Gabriel came to him 
at Mecca, with instructions from Allah, the 



THE SHIA WORLD 

All- Wise, to proclaim public4y that Ali should 
be his successor. 

Upon the conclusion of the pilgrimage the 
Prophet, accompanied by Ali and his other 
companions, started on his return journey, and, 
at a village termed Khumm, close by which 
there was a pool of water, the solemn investiture 
was held. A throne, constructed of camel 
saddles, was erected, land Ali was set thereon by 
the Prophet, who then embraced the "Lion of 
Allah " in such a close and long embrace that, 
by this act, his virtues were transmitted to his 
illustrious son-in-law. Finally, the Prophet 
formally constituted Ali as his successor and 
heir ; and this historical event is annually 
celebrated with much rejoicing under the name 
of "the Festival of the Pool of Khumm," 
wherever Persians reside. 

However, owing to the wickedness of man- 
kind, Abu Bekr, Omar and Osman were all 
elected Caliphs before Ali came to his right, and 
he only ruled for a few short years, being foully 
murdered in the sixth year of his Caliphate. 
After his death, his eldest son, Hasan the Pious, 
succeeded him ; but being wearied with the 
faithlessness . of the Arabs, he abdicated, and, like 
his descendant the Imam Riza, was poisoned. 

Ten years later his brother Husein, who had 

been promised the succession to the Caliphate 

192 



ROBBED IN THE LUT 

upon the death of Muavia, was invited by the 
fickle Kufans to trust himself to their support to 
win the throne which was justly his, and, accom- 
panied by a small band of his faithful followers 
and his family, he started off on this ill-omened 
journey. 

Upon his approach the Kufans, the curse 
of Allah be on them 1 deserted the cause of the 
Imam^ who declined to retire but resolved to die 
fighting to the bitter end, being fortified in this 
resolution by the vision of a phantom horseman 
who said to him, "Men travel by night, and 
by night their destinies travel towards them." 

He encamped with his small party at a place 
called Kerbela, near the bank of the Euphrates, 
and, to ensure a desperate defence, ordered the 
tents to be fastened together, to prevent an attack 
from that quarter. 

In the morning both sides prepared for battle, 
the forces of the enemy being under Umar bin 
Saad, who was bribed to oppose the Imam by the 
promise of the governorship of Rei. He himself 
wrote the following verse on the subject :— 

Shall I govern Rei, the object of my desire ? 

Shall I be accursed for slaying Husein ? 

The murder of Husein damns me to inevitable flames ; 

Yet sweet is the possession of Rei. 

Umar's force numbered four thousand, where- 
as the band of the Imam consisted of but 

193 ' o 



THE SHIA WORLD 

seventy- two devoted followers. However, before 
the battle commenced, Al Hurr, an Arab chief, 
who commanded thirty horsemen, quitted the 
ranks of the enemy and joined the sacred force 
with his son, brother and slave, the other sowars 
declining to follow him. By Allah I we rever- 
ence his memory even to-day and remember how 
he reproached the Arabs in these words : " Alas 
for you ! you invited him and he came, and you 
not only deceived him, but are now come out to 
fight against him. Nay, you have hindered him 
and his wives and his family from the waters of 
the Euphrates, where Jews and Christians and 
Sabaeans drink, and where pigs and dogs disport 
themselves." 

When ,the battle commenced two warriors 
stepped forth from the ranks of the enemy, but 
they and many other champions were slain by 
the indomitable heroes, until Umar withdrew 
his horsemen and sent five hundred archers to 
the front, who rained in arrows. Even then 
the warriors of the Imam were unconquered 
until, after the fight had raged the whole day, 
and the entire party of the Irnam had been 
slain, the Imam himself, overpowered by count- 
less wounds, fell in a last desperate rush among 
the foemen. May the Peace of Allah be on 
him, and His forgiveness be on the members of 

his band and on Al Hurr ! 

194 



ROBBED IN THE LUT 

The helpless women were stripped and in- 
sulted by their captors and also by the pitiless 
rabble on the way to Damiaseus, where the 
accursed Yezid, son of Muavia, endeavoured to 
aggravate their sorrows in such a fashion that 
it can never be forgotten. 

It is this awful tragedy that we Shias celebrate 
in the month of Muharram, and on the tenth 
day, the anniversary of the murder of the Imam 
Husein, the Prince of Martyrs, there are always 
processions to remind us of the heart-rending 
calamity. In Yezd each of the seventeen 
quarters prepares a procession, the cost of 
which is partly defrayed by the legacies of pious 
men. 

The procession I joined was headed by a 
band of men who, to honour the Imam by self- 
inflicted pain, had hung horse-shoes, locks, and 
heavy chains to their bare bodies, and who, by 
their example, encouraged even little children 
to wound themselves in memory of the wounds 
of the Imum. 

Then came camels laden with tents, and in- 
numerable mules, lent by their pious owners, 
carrying baggage, followed by a hundred horses 
with shawls draped on their necks and by two 
hundred led horses. Behind these there were 
thirty-five camels, ridden by members of the 

Imavis family, representations of the seventy- two 

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bodies of the martyrs, seventeen heads on lances 
and a band of Arab horsemen. Two singers 
of war songs represented the two parties and 
engaged in a heated dialogue, mingled with 
curses. 

Then came Hazrat Abbas, the standard- 
bearer, accompanied by eighty water-carriers. 
It was he who was slain when attempting to 
draw water from the Euphrates. 

Among the most conspicuous features was a 
wooden house draped in black to represent the 
bridal chamber of Fatima, daughter of the Imarriy 
who was married to her cousin Kasim just before 
the fatal day. A hundred dervishes with their 
axes, horns, and lion or leopard skins also formed 
part of the procession. 

The next scene was that of Yezid on his 
throne, surrounded by his Court, while eighty 
men beat two stones together and recited mourn- 
ful verses. Nor must we forget the ambassador 
from Europe, who, seeing Yezid insult the head 
of the dead Imam^ fearlessly rebuked him before 
all his courtiers. Finally, there was a model of 
the tomb of the Imam^ surrounded by brave 
officers and soldiers of the ever-victorious army 
of Iran. 

In the different parts of the procession groups 
of two hundred men beat their breasts in rhythm, 
and as they advanced they recited : 

198 



li 



I I 



9 



." • 



ROBBED IN THE LUT 

O our hnam Jafar ! ^ 

Husein our Lord 

Has been murdered on the plain of Kerbela ; 

Dust be on our heads. 

And so the procession moved in stately order 
to the square of Mir Chakmak, where there is 
an octagonal, tile-covered pillar, which is peculiar 
to Yezd. There a halt was made, while an 
enormous structure, representing the bier of the 
Imam^ decorated with fine Kerman shawls and 
innumerable flags, mirrors, swords, and daggers, 
was slowly carried round the Square by five 
hundred men, who bore this heavy burden as 
a sacred privilege. It is the pride of the 
inhabitants of the village of Mohamedabad to 
render this unique service to the Imam; and 
nowhere else in Persia is there such a huge 
bier. From the Square the procession proceeded 
to the Palace, where the Governor loaded its 
organisers with gifts and released two prisoners 
convicted of murder ; and so back to its quarter, 
after having shown to men, women, and children 
the poignant tragedy of Kerbela, which will not 
be forgotten by us Iranis until the Day of 
.Judgment. 

• • • • ■ 

After taking part in the procession on the 
tenth of Moharram, we decided to continue our 

^ Jafar was the sixth Imam, 
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journey across the dreadful Lut to Tabas without 
undue delay. As I am deeply versed in geo- 
graphy, and am not among those who believe 
that " Atlantic " is the name of a city, perhaps 
the people of London would like to hear from 
me about our famous desert, for, just as the 
gardens of Iran surpass all others for beauty, so 
the Lut, well named after one of our prophets, 
Lut or Lot, on Him be Peace I surpasses all 
other deserts in the world for its extent and 
aridity. 

Now the Lut stretches from near Tehran 
across the centre of Persia to the frontiers of 
Baluchistan, a distance of two hundred Jarsakks^ 
and, if travellers speak the truth, this desert 
really stretches almost to India; but only in 
Iran is it called the Lut From north to south 
its extent is nowhere more than one hundred 
farsakhs wide, and, by the road we were travel- 
ling, it scarcely exceeds ^^y farsakhs in width. 

This huge desert was once, according to our 
histories, a sea ; but nowadays there are great 
ranges without water and vast areas of moving 
sand, which covers the road if there be a strong 
wind. Again, there are huge salt swamps, more 
especially in the northern portion, and elsewhere 
it is so stony that it is necessary to travel very 
slowly. Throughout there is very little water, 
and generally it is salt. Indeed, there are count- 

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ROBBED IN THE LUT 

less steep passes over the ever-barring ranges of 
hills, fearful ascents and descents, dangerous 
swamps, and the terror of the moving sands. 
The climate is either extremely hot or bitterly- 
cold. Indeed only a brave and hardy race like 
we Iranis would dare to cross such an awesome 
place, which is not only haunted by Ghouls and 
Afrits, but also by robbers with savage faces and 
evil hearts. 

There is no water, no habitation, and 

No summons to prayers of the Mussulman. 

In all this huge waterless tract there is un- 
limited grazing for camels, but little else. I have 
read that the camel -bird ^ in ancient days inhabited 
this desert, and the Doctor Sahib told me that 
the English in Africa now make much profit 
from selling its feathers. In the name of Allah, 
then, let them come and show us Persians how 
to become rich from our boundless Lut 1 

We resumed our journey on a propitious 
day; but, just as I was mounting, Ali Khan 
sneezed violently, and had not Mahmud Khan, 
who declined to pay an extra day's hire for the 
mides, prevented us, we should not have started 
that day. Allah knows how true is our proverb, 
" Greediness makes a man blind." 

About B, farsakh from Yezd we dismounted 

^ This is the Persian term for the ostrich^ which ranged the Lut 
many hundreds of years ago. 

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to smoke a water pipe, and, sitting on a ridge 
overlooking the city, we swore with an oath 
that it was not fit for any one to live in but the 
Yezdis. As Ali Khan truly remarked, the city 
was composed mainly of wind-towers.^ 

We rode slowly forward, and as we were 
descending a little valley, a hare suddenly crossed 
our track to the left. Mahmud Khan turned 
white like curds at this evil omen ; but, angry at 
his behaviour in the morning, I pointed out that 
what fate ordained would be ; and that avarice 
was composed of three letters, and that all three 
were empty. ^ 

In truth, I could not content myself with this 
proverb, but said to them, " Have you not heard 
the story about the late Commander-in-Chief of 
the Persian army at Tabriz ? " This personage 
was so avaricious that he used to allow the 
regiments on duty to return to their homes 
only if their officers paid him large sums of 
money. 

This was his constant habit, until he was very 
ill and the Angel of Death was knocking at the 
gate, when he was told that General Najaf Ali 
Khan had come to see him about dismissing the 

^ These wind-towers are high chimneys, and convey a draught 
of air to subterraneous rooms which are resorted to during the 
summer. 

2 This refers to the Persian word for avarice, which is spelt by 
three letters, none of which are dotted. 

204 



ROBBED IN THE LUT 

Muzaffari regiment ; but that, as he was iU, he 
would not be allowed to trouble him. 

Unable to speak, the dying man gave a sign 
that the petitioner should be admitted ; and the 
General, after a few words, offered one thousand 
toinaiis. The Commander-in-Chief was in the 
death agony ; but, just before the Angel of 
Death seized his soul, he shook two lean fingers 
at the General, signifying thereby that he must 
pay two thousand tomans, and, shaking his two 
fingers, he died. Truly Allah is great and his 
paths are hidden ! 

To complete my ill-humour, when we halted 
to eat our breakfast my servant Gholam Riza re- 
presented to me that my samovar had evidently 
been stolen at Yezd, as he could not find it in the 
morning when packing up. He added that this 
was fate. This answer made me so angry that I 
exclaimed, " Thou half-boiled jackass, dost thou 
not know what our Prophet, on him and on 
his family be Peace, replied to such a one as 
thou ? " He ordered : " Tie up the knee of thy 
camel, with thy trust in Allah." Better advice 
than this has no man given. 

The following day the head muleteer suggested 
to us to ride about a farsakh to the left of the 
track, as we should see the famous City of Lut. 
And indeed it was a wonderful spectacle, as, on 
each side of a wide valley we saw the ruins of 

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THE SHI A WORLD 

great forts and of wonderful buildings, so 
enormous and so magnificent that they must 
have been built by the Divs. Here then was the 
country which Allah the Omnipotent destroyed, 
as it is written in the Koran, " We turned those 
cities upside down." O my brethren, tremble 
and fear the vengeance of Allah the Omnipotent I 
and forget not the awful punishment that fell on 
those evil-doers. 

That night at Kharana we overtook a caravan 
of pilgrims from Shiraz, who had been delayed 
for a week by rumours that a band of robbers 
was holding the road. However, the arrival of 
our party, sixty strong, doubled our numbers; 
and it was decided to march together until 
Meshed was reached. 

In the caravan from Shiraz were two Khans 
with whom we made acquaintance. But it must 
be stated clearly that, in the whole of Persia, 
there are no people so immoderately proud of 
themselves as the Shirazis. Indeed, before we 
had been together an hour, the son of Assad 
UUah Khan quoted from Shaykh Sadi : 

Judge with thine eyes and set thy foot in the garden fair and 

free. 
And tread the jessamine under foot, and the flowers of the 

Judas tree. 
O joyous and gay is the New Year's Day, and in Shiraz most 

of all. 

Even the stranger forgets his home and becomes its willing 

thrall. 

206 



ROBBED IN THE LUT 

Fortunately, I was as well acquainted with the 
great poet's works as the KJmn^ and I stopped 
this boasting for a while by quoting : 

My soul is weary of Shiraz^ utterly sick and sad ; 
If you seek for news of my doings^ you will have to ask at 
Baghdad. 

However, it was no use as, whatever we said, 
our companions could not realise that it was 
their good fortune at having two such poets as 
Shaykh Sadi and Khoja Hafiz born at Shiraz 
that had made their city known, whereas actually 
its climate is damp and unwholesome compared 
with Kerman, and in size there is no comparison. 
To say more would be excessive. 

The morning we left Kharana it was arranged 
that we Khans with our armed servants should 
ride in front of the caravan in order to protect it; 
and we warned all the pilgrims not to straggle. 
No one would, however, pay attention to our 
warning, and the Chaoush^ who was reading 
suitable passages from the Koran, to which every 
one replied by Salawat or " Blessings," said that 
we should not be troubled, as His Highness the 
Imam Riza would protect his servants. 

We stopped for the heat of the day at Rizab, 
a dilapidated, sinister-looking caravanserai. We 
knew that this was a dangerous place, as we had 

^ The Chaoush is the leader of the party. He generally carries 
a flag on a lance and protests that he is the hravest of the brave. 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

been informed that robbers from Fars had been 
heard of quite recently in the vicinity ; but, to 
our delight, we found the place empty, and, feeling 
much relieved, we ate our breakfast with relish. 

Mahmud Khan ordered two of his servants, 
as a precaution, to keep watch, and we all 



composed ourselves to sleep about noon. Just 
as we thought it was time to arouse ourselves 
and finish the stage, a terrible uproar occurred, 
and, before we had time even to seize our rifles, 
we were captured by the Fars robbers. 

Their leader, Gholam Ali, was a man of most 
ferocious aspect, and when he recognised Assad 
Ullah Khan, he glared at him like a X)iv. Assad 



QHOt^H AU, "cut hand 
(OdI; His Uiamb «t th« rlgbc bind te laft) 



« » « 



• tf 






» * • • • 



ROBBED IN THE LUT 

UUah Khan was frozen to the spot like a statue ; 
and it was explained that he had some years ago 
cut off the fingers of the right hand of Gholam 
Ali, who was caught robbing a caravan near 
Dehbid, of which village Assad UUah Khan 
was at that time the Governor. The black- 



hearted ruffian, whose nickname was "Cut 
Hand," was so furious that his eyes became red, 
and he swore that, in revenge, he would shoe 
Assad Ullah Khan with horse-shoes ; ' and that 
he would only grant him a respite until he had 
collected the booty. 

Everything belonging to us was seized. 
Personally I had not brought much money with 

' This has frequently been done, death generally resulting. 



THE SHIA WORLD 

me, as I had a bill on a banker at Meshed, and 
had sent the horse presented to me by the prince 
back to Kerman ; but Mahmud Khan, who was 
old fashioned and loved to keep his money under 
his quilt at night, had seven hundred tomans 
with him, and in spite of his curses and entreaties 
all of it was taken. As the verse runs : 

You may shout or cry ; but the thief will not return the 
robbed goods. 

Our carpets, clothes, and rifles were seized ; but 
the property of a mullah^ who was a Sayyid, was 
restored. In short, we were stripped of every- 
thing except our underclothes, and those who 
resisted were badly beaten. 

O readers of London and the New World, 
imagine our sad plight as we, who in the morning 
had owned horses, mules, and camp equipment, 
crawled miserably into Saghand with but a lame 
mule and a donkey which the robbers did not 
require. Ali Khan alone, like the light youth 
he was, kept repeating : '' Respect is in Content- 
ment ; Disgrace is in Avarice," until we all 
begged him for Allah's sake to hold his peace. 

Mahmud Khan was violently angry and 
behaved like a madman, at one time cursing the 
robbers, and at another vowing that his two 
servants, who had been ordered to keep watch, 
but who had slept, should eat a thousand sticks. 

Everything, fortunately, has an end ; but, 

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ROBBED IN THE LUT 

upon our arrival at Saghand in a pitiful state 
of fatigue, judge of our surprise when we saw 
Assad UUah Khan seated outside the house of 
the headman of the village smoking a water pipe. 
'' O Allah, what do I behold ? Am I asleep or 
awake ? " and a thousand other expressions rose 
to our lips ; but the Khan said, " Did you not 
know that the Shirazis are clever, and I who am 
not less clever than the other Shirazis, told the 
servant of Gholam Ali, who was guarding me, 
that I had two hundred tovians sewn up in my 
quilt. He, like an ass, believing me went off 
to find the money; and I quietly stole behind 
the caravanserai where Gholam Ali had left his 
horses, mounted one of them and, riding down a 
water-course, escaped. He completed his story 
by quoting : " If Allah wills, an enemy becomes 
a source of good." 

At Saghand we met Haji Aga Mohamed, a 
merchant of Kerman, and, thanks to him, we were 
able to continue our journey without having to 
beg for our bread. Indeed, like the masters of 
wisdom that we were, we gradually ceased to eat 
grief, and Mahmud Khan finally forgave his 
servants, who incessantly begged me with tears 
to intercede for them, which I was bound to do. 
In short, I represented to Mahmud Khan that 
" Allah takes the boat whither He will ; let the 
boatman tear his clothes in grief." 

213 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE ARRIVAL AT THE SACRED THRESHOLD 

When Yuiius fled into the laden ship ; and 
Those who were on board cast tots among 
Hienigelves, and he was condemned ; and the 
Fish swallowed him. . . . And We cast him 
On the naked shore, and he whs sick ; and We 
Cauaed a plant of a gourd to grow up over him. 

The Koran. 

Half-way across the Lut was a land of moving 
sands known as the " Sand of the Camels " ; and 
here we endured much trouble, as we had only 
been able to hire donkeys at Saghand, and owing 
to the heat and the absence of water, we all 
suffered terribly. Indeed several of the pilgrims, 
most of whom were half-naked and on foot, fell 
down and remained senseless until the evening ; 
but, praise be to Allah, they finally reached the 
stage where, although the water was salt, they 
all drank to repletion, so much so that the 
caravan had to halt for two days, as every one 
was ill, owing to the heat, thirst, fatigue. 



ARRIVAL AT SACRED THRESHOLD 

and, above all, the salt water. Yet we were 
very thankful that there had not been a storm, 
as many a caravan has lost its way and all its 
members have perished when the wind has 
moved the sands and covered up the track. 

We were now in Khorasan, the Land of the 
Sun, and as it is one of the great provinces of 
Iran, it is advisable for me to briefly describe it. 
Khorasan stretches from the extreme north-east 
of Persia down to the province of Sistan, which 
is included in the same government, and which 
was the home of Rustam, the mighty champion 
of Iran. 

Among the famous cities of the province are 
Tus, built by one of the generals of Kei Khusru 
and Nishapur, founded by the Sasanian monarch 
Shapur. To-day, however, owing to the Shrine 
of the Imam Riza, Peace be on Him, Meshed is 
the capital of this vast province. 

I have read in the Shah Naina that it was 
at Kishmar, in the district of Turshiz, that Zoro- 
aster planted a cypress, brought by him from Para- 
dise, to commemorate the conversion to the new 
faith of Gushtasp, the Shah. For many centuries 
this cypress increased in size, until, fourteen 
hundred and fifty years after it was planted, the 
Caliph Mutawakkil ordered it to be felled and 
to be transported to Samara on the Tigris, where 
he was building a new palace. 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

The hapless Gabrs offered large sums of 
money in vain, and the tree was cut down, but 
the night before it reached its destination the 
Caliph was murdered by his son. I mention 
this story to show how very ancient and glorious 
a province Khorasan is, as it is now more than a 
thousand years since the death of Mutawakkil. 

Khorasan, indeed, has many wonderful places. 
Among them is the fort of Kalat-i-Nadiri, which 
was undoubtedly built by the Divs^ as it consists 
of a valley surrounded by hills which only a bird 
can cross, so precipitous are they. 

In it Nadir Shah collected all the jewels and 
gold which he brought back from India, where 
his victorious army reduced its monarch to be 
his servant. This fortress, which is only de- 
fended at the five closed entrances, is one of the 
marvels of the world, and not even Amir Timur 
could capture it, as none of his soldiers could fly ; 
and we Iranis may sleep in security so long as 
Bam in the south and Kalat-i-Nadiri in the 
north are garrisoned by the ever-wakeful troops 
of the mighty Shah, whose honour and glory are 
increased by the possession of these two great 
fortresses, which are famous throughout the 
Seven Climates. 

As to the people of Khorasan I cannot en- 
tirely praise them, indeed they are noted through- 
out Iran for being dull and stupid; but then 

216 



ARRIVAL AT SACRED THRESHOLD 

every one agrees that it is the Kermanis and 
Shirazis who are the cleverest and wittiest people 
in Persia, whereas in the north there are too 
many Turks, who are slow and dull. 

To prove this stupidity of the Khorasanis, 
there is the story of three Persians who were 
each praising their own provinces. The Kermani 
said, " Kerman produces fruit of seven colours " ; 
the Shirazi continued, ^* The water of Ruknabad 
issues from the rock " ; but the poor Khorasani 
could only say, "From Khorasan come fools 
like myself." 

However, I think that the Khorasanis, if dull, 
are very honest and very hospitable ; and during 
my stay in their province I always found them 
most polite, and, as the poet says : 

Whomsoever thou seest in the saintly garb, 
Suppose him to be a good man and a Saint* 

After traversing the terrible Lut, where we 
had suffered not only from the difficulties and 
dangers of the road, but also from the savageness 
of man, Tabas, the gate of Khorasan, as it is 
well named, appeared to us as beautiful as 
Damascus did to the Prophet. May the Peace 
of Allah be on Him and on His family ! 

In truth, when we rode up an avenue bordered 
on both sides by mulberries, elms, willows, and 
palms, and saw the streams of running water, we 
thanked Allah the Bountiful that we had, at 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

last, arrived safely in an inhabited country after 
all our sufferings. 

Tabas is termed Tabas of the Date Palm, to 
distinguish it from Tabas of the Jujube Tree in 
the district of Kain. It has always been famous 
not only for its dates and oranges, but also for 
its heat Indeed, in Khorasan, to say "Go to 
Tabas " is not a polite remark. 

Many centuries ago it was in the hands of the 
Ismailis, who, under Hasan Sabbah, seized the 
district Now there is a legend to the effect 
that the Nizam-uUMulk^ the famous Vizier, was 
a school-fellow of both Omar Khayyam and 
Hasan Sabbah ; and the three youths bound 
themselves by an oath, sealed with blood, that 
whichever among them became powerful, would 
aid the other two. 

When the Nizam-uUMulk rose to be Vizier, 
he offered Omar Khayyam the governorship of 
Nishapur : but the philosopher wisely declined, 
and, instead, asked for a pension, which was 
granted to him. 

Hasan Sabbah, who was ambitious, asked for 
a post at Court, and there intrigued against his 
benefactor. He was, however, found out and 
fled to Egypt, whence he, later on, returned to 
Persia, where he founded his famous sect of 
disciples. 

It is stated that the devotees of the sect were 

218 



ARRIVAL AT SACRED THRESHOLD 

given hemp, and when under its baleful influence 
were carried into a terrestrial paradise with 
beauteous houris^ gardens, running streams, and 
all other delights. After enjoying these pleasures 
for three days, they were again drugged and 
carried out; and thenceforward believed that, 
if they executed the orders of Hasan Sabbah, 
they would return and remain for ever in this 
paradise. 

To give a single example of how they acted, 
I would refer to the case of Ibn Attash, who 
established a branch of the sect at Isfahan, and 
so successful was he that his followers increased 
in numbers most rapidly. 

Just about this time numerous inhabitants of 
Isfahan began to disappear in a most mysterious 
manner, and Allah the All -wise used a poor 
beggar woman as the instrument whereby this 
wickedness was revealed. For she asked for 
alms at a certain house whence she heard groans 
proceeding; but when invited to enter she 
exclaimed, " May Allah heal your sick," and fled 
to rouse the quarter. 

When the mob broke open the door they 
beheld some four or five hundred victims, many 
already dead ; but a few, who had been recently 
crucified, were still alive. May the pity of 
Allah be on them ! 

This place of slaughter belonged to a blind 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

man, who used to stand at the end of the long 
lane leading to his house crying, *'May Allah 
pardon him who will lead this poor blind man to 
the door of his dwelling ! " There the Ismailis 
seized and tortured the unsuspecting victim, who 
was done to death in return for a good deed. 
May the curse of Allah be on Hasan Sabbah 
and on his Sect ! 

Alhamdulillah ! to-day the remnants of this 
sect, who still inhabit Kain and Nishapur, have 
left this path of darkness ; and by the good 
fortune of His Auspicious Majesty, are simple 
villagers engaged in cultivating their land and 
praying for the long life of the Shah. 

We presented ourselves before the Governor, 
an old man, who claimed descent from Nadir 
Shah. It is also said that his family has rendered 
such help to the Kajar dynasty that it will 
always keep the government of Tabas. His 
Excellency showed us kindness, and on hearing 
what had occurred he was very angry, and swore 
that he would burn Gholam Ali's father.^ He 
immediately sent a body of his brave sowars, 
who finally captured the robber and brought 
him bound on his horse to Tabas; but just 
before he was imprisoned in the fort, he broke 
away bound as he was, and galloping his horse, 

^ *^To burn a man's father" in Persia is the most usual threat. 
A burnt Mohamedan has no chance of Paradise. 

220 



ARRIVAL AT SACRED THRESHOLD 

took sanctuary in the shrine of Shahzada Sultan 
Husein, There, as you, O readers, probably do 
not know, he was safe so long as he remained 
within the sanctuary, and I have heard nothing 
since that day as to what happened. 

In any case none of our stolen money or 
property was restored to us, although the 
Governor treated me with much kindness and 
gave me one hundred tomans^ when we called to 
request permission to depart and to continue our 
journey. 

For some stages we crossed a boundless salt 
desert, and in the middle of it was Yunusi. 
This village is famous all over the world, as it 
was here that the whale cast up the Prophet 
Yunus,^ on him be Peace ! In those days, as X 
have already mentioned, the salt swamp was a 
great sea, and, consequently, there is no doubt 
that this was the very spot where the Prophet 
reached the shore, and where a gourd grew and 
formed a shelter of greenery over his senseless 
frame. Truly Allah is great 1 

Two stages after leaving Yunusi we passed 
several encampments of Baluchis, who weave 
good carpets, and reached Mahavalat, noted for 
its melons, which, like many things in Persia, are 
unsurpassed. So delicate are they that they 
cannot be grown near a road, as the gallop of a 

^ This 18^ of course^ the Prophet Jonah. 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

passing horse would split them ; and, alas I for 
the pleasure of the world, they cannot be carried 
even as far as Meshed, so tender are they ; and 
yet so luscious and sweet that how can I repre- 
sent it ? 

However, Mahavalat was not a stage of good 



omen as, at it, there was nearly spilling of blood, 
which Allah forbid for men bound on a pilgrim- 
age to the threshold of the holy Imam. 

It happened in this wise. Ever since we had 
been robbed at Rizab, Mohamed Riza Khan, 
the son of Assad Ullah Khan, had every day by 
hints and insinuations east reflections on the 
courage of the Kermanis in the presence of Ali 



ARRIVAL AT SACRED THRESHOLD 

Khan ; moreover, he said that, had one of 
his grooms been watching instead of the two 
servants of Mahmud Khan, the calamity would 
never have befallen us. In short, there was ill- 
feeling between these two hot-»headed youths. 

On this occasion, Ali Khan said to M ohamed 
Riza Khan, •* If you grant me permission, I will 
tell you how in Kerman we have knowledge 
of the bravery of the men of Fars. Some years 
ago, Isfandiar Khan, Buchakchi, the chief of one 
of our small tribes, entered Lar with about 
twenty of his fellow-tribesmen, and stated that 
he had the orders of His Auspicious Majesty to 
collect the revenue. The men of Lar at first 
swore that they would resist, but when Isfandiar 
Khan ordered his Mirza to write a telegram to 
the ' Foot of the Throne,' to the effect that the 
Laris were rebellious, they at once ate dirt and 
paid the revenue to the crafty brigand, so that 
when the Governor-General of Fars sent his 
servants to levy the taxes, behold Lar was as 
naked as the Lut, for Isfandiar Khan had clean 
eaten it up. 

"Well, the Governor-General came with a 
large force to capture Isfandiar Khan, who, at 
first, sent polite messages to His Excellency ; 
but, at length, he grew tired of being pursued 
like a fox, and said openly that there would soon 
be a * Night of blood.' 



THE SHIA WORLD 

" The Shirazis heard this, and that night the 
brave Governor-General had a deep hole dug in 
his tent in which to hide under the felts should 
an attack be made. However, nothing happened 
until six hours of the night had passed, when the 
Shirazis heard the thundering of horses' hoofs 
and thought that the Day of Judgment had 
come. Immediately they all fled, crying Aman, 
or quarter ; but the thunder of hoofs came ever 
nearer, and, at last, it was. seen that the lion- 
hearted Shirazis were fleeing from a herd of 
jnares which had been attracted by the camp 
fires." 

As Ali Khan finished this story, Mohamed 
Riza Khan leaped at him like a leopard, and 
had not Mahmud Khan and I hastened to the 
spot, Allah knows what would have happened. 
As the Arab proverb runs, ** Jesting is the fore- 
runner of evil." 

After quitting Mahavalat, we rode on hour 
by hour until at sunset we reached Turbat-i- 
Heidari, so termed after the saint known as the 
" Pole of Religion." Holy indeed was he who, 
alone of mortal men, clothed himself in felt in 
summer, and passed frequently through fires, 
and who, to still further mortify his body, slept 
without any covering in the "Forty days of 
Cold." In short, " The Chosen of Allah are not 
Allah, but they are not separate from Allah." 



ARRIVAL AT SACRED THRESHOLD 

Upon our arrival at Sharifabad, which you 
should know is but one stage from Meshed the 
Holy, we found all the rooms in the caravan- 
serai and houses already occupied by pilgrims 
from Tehran. Indeed, we had almost lost hope of 
finding any accommodation, so great was the 
throng, when we were met by a handsomely clad 
Sayyidy who accosted us in a vpry friendly 
manner with " Welcome, Khans of Kerman, you 
need be under no apprehension about your 
quarters, as they are ready." 

Needless to say, we were very much gratified 
to see that our reputation had preceded us even 
to this distant part of the country, and followed 
our guide to a small house with a garden which 
appeared most delightful to us after nearly two 
months of travel. 

We quitted Sharifabad early in the morning, 
and even our very horses seemed to go faster, as 
if they felt that this was the last stage to Meshed 
the Holy. We crossed green, rounded hills, and 
at last one of our chief desires was fulfilled, for 
we had reached the highest ridge, known as the 
" Hill of Salutation " ; and the golden dome 
of Meshed, the Glory of the Shia World, lay 
before us. 

In the centre of the fertile valley of the 
Kashaf Rud we could see the Holy City sur- 
rounded by green gardens resembling emeralds, 

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THE SHIA WORLD 

out of which rose the ineffable sheen of the 
unsurpassed dome with its peerless golden 
minarets ; in truth so bright was its glory that 
we could not continue to gaze on it. 

Meanwhile, the Sayyid spread a handkerchief 
and began to recite a prayer which we repeated 
after him, " Peace be on you, the members of the 
Prophet's family, the Seat of the Messenger of 
Allah, the Centre of the Angels, the Abode of 
the Angel Gabriel, the Mine of the blessings of 
Allah, the Guardians of Knowledge .... Peace 
be on Thee, O the greatest Stranger of all the 
Strangers,^ the Sympathiser of the souls, the 
Sun of the Suns, buried in the soil of Tus." We 
then all shook hands and threw money into the 
handkerchief, and as I saw Assad UUah Khan 
give a two kran piece, I threw down a piece of 
gold just to teach him that it was not the time 
to be parsimonious. 

There were seven or eight other parties of 
pilgrims like ourselves on the hill. Amongst 
them was a merchant from Yezd, who was 
beaming with happiness and shaking hands and 
receiving congratulations. We were informed 
that his wife, faithful to her vow, that if her 
husband took her to the Sacred Shrine she 
would forego her dowry rights to a large landed 

' In allusion to the Imam having died away from his own 
country. 

228 



7^ 



ARRIVAL AT SACRED THRESHOLD 

estate, had transferred her claim to her husband. 
Indeed, it is a common act of piety with ladies, 
who after a life of longing have prevailed upon 
their husbands to bring them to Meshed, to 
forego their claim to their dowries on catching 
the first glimpse of the Holy Shrine, 

Hundreds of returning pilgrims too tarried 
on the hill to say their last prayer with the 
golden dome in view, and to pile up stones as 
a remembrance. It is customary for all such 
parties to say "We petition for prayers," and 
thus to beseech pilgrims going to the Shrine 
to pray for them there. In reply, the hope 
is expressed that their pilgrimage has been 
accepted. 

On reaching Turuk, one and a half farsakhs 
from Meshed, we drank a cup or two of tea 
and then entered carriages provided by our 
friend the Sayyid. Between Turuk and the 
Holy City we saw some huge rocks, whose 
weight Allah alone knows ; and Sayyid Mirza 
Ali stopped the carriage, and pointing to their 
rounded shape, explained to us that these inani- 
mate objects were like ourselves, bound from 
distant regions to kiss the threshold of His 
Highness the Imam. 

As Ali Khan, who is, you must know, merely 
a youth, looked as if he doubted this fact, the 
Sayyid said to him, " O brother, thou shouldest 

229 



THE SHIA WORLD 

build thy house of belief on the foundations of 
faith, otherwise thy house will fall." He then 
asked us if we had not heard of what happened 
to the Prophet Musa, on him be peace 1 who in 
a like case was tempted to belittle faith. 

By the orders of Allah he visited a hermit, 
and found the holy man deep in prayer and 
rubbing his face on the ground. He explained 
to the Prophet that by such works alone could 
salvation be secured. 

The Prophet, inspired by Allah, asked the 
hermit whether it were possible to pass one's 
finger through the eye of a needle; but the 
hermit rebuked him sternly for asking such a 
foolish question. 

The Prophet then visited a second hermit 
whom he found in tears. Upon inquiry, the 
holy man said that he hoped, by humility and 
faith, to secure salvation, but not by works. 
Again the Prophet put the same question ; and 
again he was rebuked, but this time for doubting 
the power of Allah, who could pass a camel or 
an elephant, or the whole eighteen thousand 
worlds, through the eye of an ant, which is much ^ 

smaller than that of a needle. 

The Sayyid ended his homily with the follow- 
ing verse : 



Do not think that thou art pleasing the King by serving 
him ; but be thankful that he has accepted thee as a servant. 

230 



I 









• .* .• 



ARRIVAL AT SACRED THRESHOLD 

To this Ali Khan made no reply, and you, 
O readers of London and of the New World, 
revere our ancient faith, and do not forget that 
it is only the Moslems, the Christians, and the 
Jews who are People of the Book, 

Upon approaching the Holy City we saw 
mighty walls with massive towers, and crossing 
a handsome stone bridge we entered the '* Lower 
Avenue " gate. The " Avenue " of Meshed is so 
famous for its crystal stream, its superb plane 
trees, and its great width, that I need not men- 
tion its perfections ; but one thing I must state, 
which is that, even on the Day of Judgment, it 
would be difficult to see a much greater assembly 
of Mussulmans from the Seven Climates than I 
saw. To give a list would be impossible. 

We were driven to a house in the ''Upper 
Avenue," which was to be our residence in the 
city, and there partook of breakfast. After this 
we composed ourselves to sleep, and on waking 
found our mules had arrived. 

With haste our servants opened our boxes 
and took out new suits of clothes which we 
had purchased in Tabas. We then proceeded 
to the hammam and, thoroughly refreshed, we 
gave our travelling clothes to the attendants, 
and were at last ready to cross the Sacred 
Threshold. 



233 




CHAPTER XIV 



THE SACRED SHHINE 0¥ THE JMAM RIZA 



In the presence of the King- what should be said but 

"I sin ready? " 
It is not belittinK to say, " Peace be on thee " : 
ThU is the most sacred spot, respeut it : 
It is the holy Throne of Allah, remove thy shoes. 

Perhaps there is no harm, O ye wise men of 
Europe, if, before I act as a guide to the Sacred 
Threshold, which no one except a Mussulman 
can cross, I give you some preliminary instruc- 
tion to prepare you for the glory and splendour 
which I shall describe to you. 

Now, many of you, I dare say, are not aware 
that Iskandar traversed the valley of the Kashaf 
Rud, and that it was revealed to him that, on 
the site now occupied by the Shrine, one of the 
holiest men of all time would be buried. 

To honour the spot Iskandar enclosed the 
land with a wall, and for many centuries the 
prophecy was unfulfilled, until Harun-al-Rashid, 



} 



SACRED SHRINE OF IMAM RIZA 

the accursed, heard of it, and, when about to die, 
ordered his servants to bury him and erect a 
dome over his body on this site. His instruc- 
tions were carried out and the dome still exists, 
with the body of Harun-al-Rashid buried be- 
neath it. 

I now approach, with feelings of grief, the 
subject of our Imam Riza, on Him be Peace, 
who was the eighth in descent from Ali, and 
who was of such transcendent virtue that Mamun, 
son of Harun-al-Rashid, made him heir-apparent 
to the Caliphs, who, the Curse of Allah be on 
them, had hitherto slain or poisoned almost all 
the ancestors of the immaculate Imam. 

Mamun not only coined money on which 
both their names appeared, but he even ordered 
that the sacred green of the Imam should be 
substituted for the black worn by the sons of 
Abbas. Truly, the rejoicings of the lovers of 
the Prophets household knew no bounds, and 
they thought that "The discharged water had 
returned to the stream, and that right was about 
to be restored to the rightful heir." 

However, this accursed Caliph, hearing from 
Baghdad that his relations were hostile to his 
purpose, not only changed his plans, but, with 
his own hands, offered poisoned grapes to the 
innocent Imam. 

They say that, after partaking of the grapes, 

237 



THE SHIA WORLD 

the ever-blessed Imam rose to depart, whereupon 
Mamun the Accursed, the spawn of Iblis, said, 
" Whither goest thou, my cousin ? " To this 
the Saint replied, " I go to the place to which 
thou sendest me." 

Shortly afterwards our Lord the Imxim 
expired, and, in accordance with his own wish, 
was buried in the same shrine as Harun-al- 
Rashid. 

Owing to the ignorance of mankind the tomb 
of the holy Imam was neglected for many 
generations, until it chanced that the son of the 
Vizier of Sultan Sanjar was residing at Tus, at 
that time the capital, and trying to regain his 
health by hunting. It happened that a gazelle, 
pursued by the youth, took refuge in the tomb 
of the Imamy and when he urged his horse in 
pursuit it declined to move. 

After trying every means in his power to 
make his horse proceed, he finally understood 
that he was on holy ground, so he dismounted, 
entered the deserted tomb, and, praying to the 
Imam^ was miraculously healed of his malady. 
That very night the Imam appeared to the 
wife of the Vizier in a dream, and when she 
heard of the miraculous recovery of her son 
she informed the Vizier and the news reached 
the Sultan, who at once gave orders that the 
Shrine should be repaired and other buildings 

238 



SACRED SHRINE OF IMAM RIZA 

added to it. The garden of Sanabad, which 
lies close by, was also brought into cultivation 
once again. 

From this date, although Khorasan has been 
ravaged again and again, the Shrine has never 
been deserted, and when Tus was utterly 
destroyed, and most of its inhabitants massacred 
by the pitiless Moghuls, the remnant gathered 
round the tomb of the Irnam^ which has now 
been the capital of Khorasan for many cycles 
of years. 

Among those who honoured themselves by 
giving gifts to the Shrine, was Shah Rukh, the 
son of Amir Timur, who presented a candela- 
brum of pure gold ; but Gauhar Shad Aga, his 
wife, who, as I shall detail later on, built many 
of the glorious buildings, far surpassed her 
husband, her name being honoured to this day. 

After the death of Shah Rukh confusion 
again ensued, and the savage Uzbegs from Khiva 
captured the holy city and murdered men, 
women, and children, not even sparing the 
Sayyids. They also carried off the golden 
candlesticks and lamps, and stripped the Shrine 
of its jewels and carpets, and, worse than all, 
they destroyed its priceless library. 

After this gloomy night, however, the dazzling 
' sun rose high in the heaven, and the Safavi 

dynasty, descended from the holy Imam, com- 

239 



THE SHIA WORLD 

pleted this glorious pile of buildings which form 
the marvel of the world. InshaUah, I will 
conduct you thither. 

The Shrine, needless to say, forms the centre 
or heart of Holy Meshed, and all around it for 
some distance lies the property of the Irnain^ 
who is still living. In proof of this I could 
mention that when the Pivot of the Universe, 
the deceased Nasir-u-Din Shah, had constructed 
a telegraph line from the capital to the Sacred 
City he addressed the first message to the ever- 
living Imam^ who graciously vouchsafed a reply. 
To continue, you may well comprehend that 
all the property belonging to the Imam is sacred, 
and that all those who flee from injustice receive 
sanctuary, once they are inside the chains which 
hang across the road. 

To make everything clear to even the 
ignorant, I procured a plan of the Shrine pre- 
pared by the architect, Haji Muavin-u-Sanaia, 
This pious individual, in order to render service 
to the Imam^ worked incessantly to prepare this 
plan for a space of two years, and, hearing of 
this, our renowned Shah bestowed on him the 
high title of " Adjutor of the Architects." In 
short, I, after a careful examination of the plan, 
can state that it is correct. 

Looking then at it, you must understand, 
O readers, that we approached the Sacred 

240 



• t 



ft 



SACRED SHRINE OF IMAM RIZA 

Threshold from the "Upper Avenue," and 
stooped to pass the chain, which we touched 
with our hands and then kissed, while our guide 
recited an appropriate prayer. 

Inside on both sides were shops which are 
famous throughout Asia ; and I am ready to 
confess that although the Kermanis excel all 
others in weaving and in many other ways, their 
shops cannot be compared with those of Meshed. 
However, this is not due to superior ability on 
the part of the Khorasanis, but simply to the 
fact that Meshed is near Bokhara, Samarcand, and 
also Herat ; and, indeed, I found upon inquiry 
that the beautiful silks which I saw all came 
from Bokhara. The Turkoman carpets, too, 
which are very fine, are not produced in Khorasan. 
I will, however, praise its fruit, which is very 
good, albeit, owing to the cold, there are no figs 
or pomegranates grown in the gardens near 
Meshed. 

The Sayyid would not allow us to delay, nor 
indeed did we wish to, and very soon we passed 
through a lofty gateway, with an inscription 
warning the pilgrim that he was approaching 
holy ground, and were informed that the court 
of dazzling richness which we had entered was 
the " Old Court." 

Being a lover of history I examined every- 
thing in detail, and if I tell you that the court 

243 



THE SHIA WORLD 

was some ninety by sixty metres, with four great 
porches, and that it was covered with tiles of 
many colours which not only cannot be made 
except by Persians, but require the sapphire 
blue of the sky of Iran to show them in their 
perfection, you may faintly imagine its beauty. 
It is paved with hewn stones, and underneath 
lies the dust of thousands of pious Mussulmans, 

The court is two-storied, the upper row of 
chambers being occupied by the high officials 
of the Shrine. The lesser officials, such as the 
carpenter, the goldsmith, and the repairers of the 
holy Korans, occupy the lower chambers, some 
of which have even been converted into tombs. 

There are four porches, the most beautiful 
of which is known as "The Golden Porch of 
Nadir." It was indeed built by Sultan Husein, 
but was enriched by the mighty Afshar, may 
Allah forgive him, who not only paved and 
panelled it with white marble brought from 
distant Maragha,^ but covered the walls with 
tiles cased in gold. 

The inscription in great golden letters on a 
blue ground is very perfect, and, Allah knows. 
Nadir was a World Conqueror and a Lord of 
Perception, albeit cruel. 

Of his power of perception they relate that 

^ Maragha is near Tabriz^ and over 1000 miles distant from 
Meshed. 

244 



ii 



T • > 



SACRED SHRINE OF IMAM RIZA 

one day when he entered the Sacred Shrinie he 
saw a blind man invoking the aid of the Imam^ 
and upon inquiry he learned that he had been 
there for several months. The Great Monarch 
asked him why his faith was so weak that his 
sight had not been restored, and swore that if 
on his return he found him still blind he would 
cut off his head. The wretched man prayed so 
fervently, and fixed his mind so intently on the 
Imam^ that within a few minutes his sight was 
restored, and in honour of the miracle the 
bazaars were illuminated. 

Upon entering the court we first performed 
our ablutions at the famous "Fountain of 
Nadir." This unique fountain is formed from 
a single block of white marble decorated with 
exquisitely chiselled flowers ; it is octagonal in 
shape, three feet in height, and eighteen feet in 
circumference. The top is hollowed out, and 
copper cups are suspended for drinkers; above 
it is a gilded cover. 

They say that Nadir saw this stone at Herat, 
and agreed to pay a large sum for its transport 
to Meshed in twelve days, which, for a distance 
of sixty-five yarmA:^, would be very difficult 

Yet, urged by the hope of a royal reward, the 
man brought the stone in nine days and presented 
himself before Nadir full of hope and happiness. 
The Shah, however, upbraided him for not 

247 



THE SHIA WORLD 

keeping his contract and blinded him. His 
descendant was the owner of the house we were 
lodging in, and I am convinced of the truth of 
this story. In short, I have by these two 
examples shown to you both the perfect per- 
ception and also the cruel nature of Nadir Shah, 
the Conqueror of Delhi. 

To complete my description of this court, 
there are two unrivalled minarets which are also 
cased in gold. Indeed, when the pilgrim stands 
where he can see the Golden Porch, the 
minarets, and the dome, he has no breath left 
in him ; and it was only at my second visit that 
I noticed that round the dome were two inscrip- 
tions by Shah Abbas and Shah Suliman respec- 
tively. The Safavi dynasty is too famous to need 
praise from me. As they say, " Our enduring 
record is engraved in the history of the world." 

After admiring the glorious blue tiling and 
the Golden Porch, we approached a grating 
of steel covered with brass, through which we 
could see the sacred haram} This we touched, 
and then bowing towards the Shrine, left our 
shoes at the Kqfshkan^ which was in charge of 
a man who really seemed to be worthy to be a 
Vizier, as, although hundreds of pairs of shoes are 
always in his charge, he apparently never forgets 
to whom they belong ! 

^ Haram is the name for the sacred tomb chamber. 

248 



SACRED SHRINE OF IMAM RIZA 

Leaving, then, our shoes to the care of this 
individual, we entered the passage leading into 
the Porch of Nadir, and saw that on both sides 
were silver-plated doors. Traversing the corner 
of the Porch we entered a second "Fountain 
House," in which is a large tank hewn out of a 
single piece of marble. Under the dome lie the 
remains of the favourite eunuch of Gauhar Shad 
Aga. They say that this individual was so 
honest that he was entrusted with all the money 
expended on these buildings by his mistress ; 
and that when he died it was proved that he 
had not accumulated any wealth whatever. As 
the poet sings : 

A black slave is often by his character whiter than others, 
And a musk - coloured body has often a heart pure as 

camphor. 
This dark colour then resembles the pupil of the eye, which 

is termed black. 
But which is, nevertheless, its light. 

From this building we entered the Dar-uU 
Siada or " Place of Greatness," and surely it is 
worthy of its name. Its extreme length is one 
hundred feet, and in the middle it rises to a 
central dome, with a smaller dome at each end. 
Its decoration consists of a panelling of blue 
and gold tiles ; and above, the wall and ceiling are 
covered with glass facets resembling diamonds, 
which, were not the chamber dark, would make 
the gazer blind. Set in the wall is the round 

249 



THE SHIA WORLD 

golden dish from which the immaculate Imam^ 
on him be Peace, had partaken of the poisoned 
fruit. In the centre of it is a hole from which 
ignorant people extract a little dust and rub it 
on their eyes, believing it to be the very dust 
of the holy Imam. 

Here also the Sayyid drew our attention to 
a second grating which is made of silver, and 
was presented by the father of the deceased 
Kawam-uUMulk of Shiraz, whose ancestor, 
Hqji Ibrahim, was boiled to death by Fath Ali 
Shah. 

This Haji Ibrahim was the famous Vizier of 
Aga Mohamed Shah, whom he joined at Kerman 
after deserting Luft Ali Khan Zand. So power- 
ful was he that the far-seeing Shah advised his 
successor not to trust him, but to put him to 
death on a suitable occasion. 

At this period almost all the governorships 
in Persia were held by his sons, but such devoted 
servants had the Shah, that they were all seized 
on the same day at the same hour ; and Haji 
Ibrahim was thrown into a cauldron of boiling 
oil as a punishment for his many crimes. 

Looking through the silver grating, we, once 
again, saw the ImavfCs tomb, and once again we 
bowed towards it ; and, burning with desire, we 
hastened on by the gate of the Hissam-u-Saltana, 
which is also plated with silver, to the Dar-uU 

250 



■ » 



• h 



SACRED SHRINE OF IMAM RIZA 

HuffaZy or "Place of the Reciters,"^ which 
resembles the " Place of Greatness," but is not 
so magnificent. 

Here we prostrated ourselves, touching the 
ground with the sides of our face, as in honour 
of Allah alone may the forehead touch the 
ground ; and we prayed in accordance with the 
verse of the Holy Koran, " O believers, do not 
enter the house of the Prophet without the 
permission of its owner." 

At last, thanks be to Allah, we moved forward 
and again prostrated ourselves, rubbing our faces 
on the threshold of the Golden Gate, one of the 
marvels of the world. We then rose, overjoyed 
to be inside the haram^ and, approaching the grat- 
ing round the tomb, shook it, with prayers and 
entreaties to His Highness the Imam^ and kissed 
it. We also kissed the lock, and you must 
know that every pilgrim, after handling and 
kissing the lock on his own account, and that of 
his dead relations, must do likewise on behalf of 
his living relations and friends, whose petition to 
visit the Shrine in person is thereby placed before 
His Highness. 

I must now tell you that when the immaculate 
Imam died, it was desired by Mamum to bury 

^ The exact meaning is that the man knows the Koran by heart 
and has the title of Hafix, To-day^ in Persia^ this title is unknown^ 
whereas a Hafiz is highly honoured by Sunnis. 

253 



THE SHIA WORLD 

him under the dome in the centre of the building, 
that his accursed father might attain his salvation 
from the contact of his body with that of the 
sacred Imam ; but no tool could break open the 
Caliph's tomb, may the curse of Allah be on 
him ! And, lo 1 a miracle befell as, while the 
workers were toiling in a discouraged fashion, 
they suddenly saw a grave ready dug in the 
north-east corner, and there the innocent martyr 
was buried with his feet towards the head of 
Harun-al-Rashid, the accursed. 

The richness of the Shrine is unspeakable. 
The price alone of the door facing the foot of 
the tomb is worth the revenue of seven kingdoms, 
as it is of pure gold. The floor is inlaid with 
the choicest slabs of coloured marble from 
Shandiz, and the walls are covered with tiles in 
white, blue, and gold, like the work of China. 
Above them there is glass facet work of such 
beauty that how can I represent it ? 

The tomb of the accursed Caliph is beneath 
the earth and is nowhere visible, but round the 
tomb of the sacred Imam are three gratings. 
The outer of these is of steel, the one next 
beneath was, they say, taken from Nadir's tomb, 
and is of silver, studded with rubies and emeralds : 
the inmost grating is also of steel inlaid with 
gold. Above the tomb are hung jewelled 
aigrettes, daggers, swords, and other offerings of 

254 



•' ' 



SACRED SHRINE OF IMAM RIZA 

such value that the treasure of Karun ^ is nothing 
in comparison. 

We pilgrims, after kissing the blessed lock, 
moved round to* "The Foot of the Saint,'* 
and here, after prostrating ourselves close to a 
second gold-plated door, which is studded with 
rare jewels, the appropriate prayer was read. 

Continuing on, we moved slowly and solemnly 
round to " Behind the Head," facing the " Old 
Court." Thence by a narrow passage to "The 
Head/' 

In the passage all the enemies of the Iviam 
are cursed, and Sayyid Mirza Ali called out, " A 
curse be on Harun and on Mamun ! " to which 
we responded, " Let it be more 1 " At the head 
of the tomb the grating was again kissed, and, 
after prostrations, the two prayers were read. 

Thrice was the tomb encircled and thrice were 
the curses pronounced, after which, with tears of 
joy and in deep humility, we each lifted up our 
hands to heaven and said : " O Allah, accept my 
prayers and receive my praises of Thee and bind 
me to thy chosen people." 

• ... a 

Thus, at last, was fulfilled the great desire of 
my life. 

1 Karun, the Korah of the Old Testament, corresponds to the 
Croesus of the Greek world. 

257 S 



CHAPTER XV 

THE PILGBIMAGE IS ACCEPTED 

'llmnks be to Allah ! whatever my heart yearned for, 
Ha«, at last, appeared from behind the curtaiu of fot«. 

Upon returning to our lodging, I was visited by 
Mirza Hasan Ali, a relative of mine, who greeted 
me with the utmost respect and warmth. I 
would mention that he himself is a poet . of no 
mean qualities, and also a learned historian ; but, 
alas I to-day, in Iran, His Majesty is too much 
busied with the affairs not only of his own 
empire but also of every corner of the world, 
where his royal representatives reside, to be able 
to reward his poets. Indeed, when I tell you 
that Mirza Hasan Ali scarcely ever ivrites 
poetry, but is occupied in trying to make 
money out of a coal mine, where many men 
have already lost their fortunes, you will under- 
stand that the times have clashed together. 

I was much pleased, however, to make the 
acquaintance of a kinsman, whom I had heard of 



THE PILGRIMAGE IS ACCEPTED 

for many years, and who I now learned had the 
peculiarity of never finishing the house he lived 
in, for fear that, once the house was completed, 
he would die. 

But I must not forget that my readers are 
anxious for a description of some other of the 
magnificent buildings of the Sacred Threshold, 
and so I will ask them to accompany me to the 
*'New Court." This splendid edifice was com- 
menced by Fath Ali Shah of the Kajar dynasty, 
and was enriched by Nasir-u-Din Shah, may 
Allah pardon him ! 

The portico leading to the Shrine is termed 
the " Nasiri Golden • Porch " in honour of the 
great Shah, Nasir-u-Din, who paved it with 
beautiful marble, and covered the walls with 
golden tiles which dazzle the eyes. 

After the Shrine there is nothing in Meshed 
which can be compared with the mosque of 
Gauhar Shad Aga^ who was, as has been already 
mentioned, the wife of Shah Rukh, son of dread 
Amir Timur, Lord of the Conjunction of the 
Planets. 

In the centre of the noble quadrangle is the 
unroofed mosque of the " Old Woman." The 
story runs that when Gauhar Shad Aga, 
may Allah forgive her, wished to purchase the 
land in order to erect the mosque thereon, an old 

woman refused to sell one plot, but demanded 

261 



THE SHIA WORLD 

that on it should be built a separate mosque 
bearing her name. So great was the love of 
justice of the Princess that her petition was 
agreed to, and thereby two women have obtained 
undying fame, the one for her piety and the 
other for her justice. 

Now, O ye wise men of Europe, what is better 
than justice, and what monarchs can the world 
produce to compare with Faridun, of whom the 
poet wrote : 

Faridun the noble was not an angel ; 

He was not formed of musk and ambergris. 
From justice and generosity he obtained his reputation. 

Do thou justice and show generosity, thou art Faridun. 

This same monarch bequeathed the following 
advice to his descendants as a priceless legacy : 

Deem every day in thy life as a leaf in thy history ; 
Be careful, therefore, that nothing be written in it unworthy 
of posterity. 

A nobler maxim than this no one has heard. 
But Faridun was not the only monarch of Iran 
renowned for justice throughout the Seven 
Climates. For it is narrated that Omar, who 
was subsequently second Caliph, and Muavia, 
who was the first monarch of the Omayyad 
dynasty, visited Madain, then the capital of Iran, 
during the reign of Noshirwan. One of the 
King's sons wished to purchase a mare belonging 

to them, but they refused to sell it at any price, 

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THE PILGRIMAGE IS ACCEPTED 

and, ultimately, it was forcibly taken from them 
by the servants of the prince. 

The strangers complained to Noshirwan, who 
inquired into the case, and finding their com- 
plaint to be well founded, the mare was returned 
to them with rich gifts from the- king. 

Upon leaving the city on their return journey 
they saw the corpse of a quartered man on the 
gate; and asking for what crime this sentence 
had been passed, were informed that the corpse 
was that of one of the King's sons who had 
taken a mare by force from some strangers. 

Many years passed, the kingdom of Persia 
had fallen into the hands of the Arabs, and 
Muavia was Governor of Syria. There he 
behaved in a tyrannical manner, and seized some 
property unjustly. Complaint was made to 
Omar, who was now the Caliph, and he, finding 
that the charge was true, wrote to Muavia a 
letter of one word, and that word was " mare." 

The wretched man was preaching the Friday 
sermon in the mosque of Damascus when the 
epistle was delivered, and on reading it he fainted 
and nearly died from fear ; and when he recovered 
consciousness he immediately restored tenfold 
what he had taken by force. Thus was the 
justice of Noshirwan a shining light to the 
Seven Climates, and, moreover, there is a 
tradition to the effect that the Prophet, on him 

26.5 



THE SHI A WORLD 

be Peace, considered that his own birth during^ 
the reign of so just a monarch was auspicious. 

To resume, there are four porches in the 
mosque of Gauhar Shad Aga^ which are con- 
sidered to be unsurpassed for elegance of con- 
struction, for loftiness, and for perfection of 
proportion. The tilework, too, is so beautiful 
that how can I represent it ? 

In the Aiwa7i-i-Maksuray above which rises 
the superb blue dome, stands an exquisitely 
carved wooden pulpit of especial sanctity, as, 
when the Day of Judgment is at hand, the 
twelfth Iviam will descend on to it. May 
Allah hasten his advent ; and may He grant 
that we may ever keep the Day of Judgment in 
remembrance ! 

But before quitting the Sacred Threshold I 
would refer to Allah Verdi Khan, who is honoured 
by being buried in a building adjoining the haram. 
This individual was a noted general of Shah 
Abbas, and ordered his tomb to be built during 
his lifetime. When it was completed the 
architect came to him, settled the account, and 
then said, "The dome is completed and only 
awaits Your Excellency's august body." The 
great noble considered this to be a message from 
Allah the Omnipotent, and four days after 
hearing it he expired. 

I will now refer briefly to the famous colleges 

266 



THE PILGRIMAGE IS ACCEPTED 

of Meshed, sixteen in number. In each of them 
students are provided by the legacies of pious 
men, not only with spiritual and intellectual 
knowledge, but even with food and, in some 
cases, with clothing. 

In these colleges there are twelve hundred 
students, not only from every province of Persia, 
but also from distant India and still more distant 
Tibet 

Each student attends classes beginning with 
syntax and ending with jurisprudence, theology, 
and philosophy. This course, which is termed 
"superficial," lasts nine years, after which the 
student proceeds to Najaf, where for a second 
period of similar length he attends the lectures 
of the famous doctors of law. 

Finally, when considered sufficiently instructed, 
he receives a written certificate, sealed by the 
principal doctors of law, to the effect that he has 
acquired learning equal to their own, and is a fit 
interpreter of the law, in which it is no longer 
lawful for him to follow the opinion of another. 
He then returns to his home, where he speedily 
acquires a good practice. 

Among these colleges is one situated in the 
"Upper Avenue," which was endowed by a 
certain Fazil Khan, who acquired his wealth in 
India. One of the conditions he left in the 
deed of endowment was that neither Indians, 

267 



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THE SHIA WORLD 

Mazanderanis, nor Arabs were to be admitted. 
Indians because they were miserly. Mazanderanis 
because they were quarrelsome, and Arabs be- 
cause they were dirty and unmannerly. 

It is stated that an Arab applied for admit- 
tance, and upon learning the reason why he was 
excluded, exclaimed, "May Allah bless thy father, 
O Fazil Khan, for thou hast spoken the truth ! " 

Yet another college was endowed by a 
Persian, who gained his wealth in a remarkable 
manner. One day a rich merchant asked him 
whether he was willing to work at a place to 
which he would be conducted blindfold. Being 
a fearless Kermani and very poor he agreed, and 
was led through many streets to a courtyard 
where the bandage was removed, and he was 
ordered to dig a hole and bury gold coins and 
jewellery. This he did for several days, and 
being searched before he left, he saw no chance 
of bettering his condition. 

However, one day he saw a cat, which he 
killed and ripped open. He then sewed up 
some money and jewels inside it and threw it 
over the wall. After this, when his work was 
done, he wandered about until he found the cat, 
and not only secured the money hidden in its 
body, but also learned the position of the house. 

Its owner shortly afterwards died, and the 
astute Kermani bought his house with the gold 

268 



THE PILGRIMAGE IS ACCEPTED 

sewn up inside the cat, and as the merchant had 
never revealed his secret to any one he became 
his heir, and in turn, when dying, bequeathed 
his money for the pious task of founding and 
maintaining a college. May Allah pardon him ! 
More than one of these colleges, these seats 
of the deepest learning, were visited by me, and 
when I saw the eager students gathered round 
wise, white-bearded professors, and listened to 
the wisdom that flowed like honey from those 
learned lips, I thanked Allah that he had ordained 
Meshed to be a " Lamp of Guidance/' 

After visiting all the centres of sacred interest, 
Mirza Hasan Ali agreed one day to guide me 
to the tomb of Firdausi at Tus, as it would not 
have been befitting for me to leave Khorasan 
without first honouring myself by such a visit. 

Tus is situated some four farsakhs from 
Meshed by the Kashaf River, and, even from a 
long way off, its ancient walls and towers were 
most conspicuous. Approaching the ancient 
city we descended to the banks of the river, 
and crossed it by the famous bridge which is 
connected with the great poet. 

As I have previously mentioned. Sultan 
Mahmud treated Firdausi with great miserli- 
ness ; but, some years later, he was riding with 

his Vizier, and the question turned on whether a 

269 



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THE SHIA WORLD 

certain chief would submit or have to be attacked. 
The Vizier, by way of answer, quoted : 

And should the reply with my wish not accord. 
Then Afrasiab*s field, and the mace, and the sword ! 

" Whose verse was that ? " inquired the 
monarch, and, on learning that it was by 
Firdausi, he repented of his lack of generosity, 
and sent him a rich gift carried by the royal 
camels, together with an expression of his 
regret. But, as the camels entered the city, 
they met the bier on which Firdausi was being 
borne to his tomb ! 

Passing through the ruined walls we hastened 
on, and at last Mirza Hasan Ali pointed me out 
the spot where the poet lies. But, alas for the 
honour of us Iranis ! there was no dome to mark 
where Firdausi, the glory of Iran, was buried, 
and not even a tombstone. 

Allah knows how I wept for the disgrace 
which I, as a poet, felt most keenly, and how 
I repeated his poems throughout the heat of 
the day, and more especially the lines : 

All had been dead for ages past ; 
But were restored to life by my poetry : 
I, like Jesus, have infused Hfe 
Into all of them with my verse. 
Inhabited buildings will be ruined 
By rain and the revolution of the Sun : 
I, however, with my poetry have reared a noble edifice 
That neither wind nor rain can harm. 

270 



THE PILGRIMAGE IS ACCEPTED 

This poem will pass tlirougli many cycles : 
And all those who possess wisdom will read it. 
I have undergone many hardships during thirty years. 
But have brought Persia back to life with my Persian ^ 
poetry. 

At length, wearied out by the journey and 
my emotions, I fell asleep, and, in a dream, I 
beheld Firdausi writing his poem. Looking 
more closely, I saw that the poet was engaged 
in writing the famous story of the sons of 
Faridun. 

It is related that when that illustrious 
monarch became old he gave his eldest son, 
Salm, the west, and Turan or Tartary to Tur ; 
but on his youngest, Erij by name, he bestowed 
Iran. The two elder brothers threatened to 
revolt on hearing that Iran, their home and the 
seat of royalty, was to pass to the youngest 
member of the family, and Faridun was dis- 
traught at thus ending his glorious reign. 

However, Erij, who was the noble son of a 
noble sire, heard what was the cause of his aged 
father's grief, and, visiting his brothers, offered 
to resign his crown rather than that there 
should be civil war. But Salm and Tur, whose 
mother was a daughter of Zohak, the accursed, 
conspired together and decided to put Erij 
to death. 

While I gazed I saw that an angel was 

^ The poet here boasts that he avoided the use of Arabic words. 

271 



i 



THE SHIA WORLD 

guiding Firdausi's pen, as he wrote the appeal 
of Erij to his brothers : 

Will ye ever let it be recorded 

That ye, possessing life, deprive others of that blessing ? 

Pain not the ant that drags the grain along the ground ; 

It has life, and life is sweet and pleasant to all who possess it. 

Scarcely had the last word been written than 
I awoke and behold it was a dream, but I fell 
down prostrate on the ground and thanked 
Allah the Omnipotent that on me, a humble 
poet of modem Iran, such a signal blessing had 
been conferred. 

My last visit to the Shrine was at night, and, 
upon the whole, I was pleased that it was 
lighted with the electric light, which is, at any 
rate, free from objectionable matters, foreign 
candles being, they say, made of even the fat 
of the unclean animal.^ 

But yet I yearned to be back in the days 
of Shah Abbas, who, after having performed the 
entire journey from Isfahan on foot, undertook 
the menial task of trimming the locally made 
candles, thousands of which illuminated the 
Shrine. On this occasion His Majesty was 
attended by Shaykh Behai, who composed the 
following quatrain : — 

The angels from the high heavens gather like moths 
O'er the candles lighted in this Paradise-like tomb : 

^ 7.6. the pig. 
272 



ilojar Sylirs, fihot. 



• •. ♦ 






THE PILGRIMAGE IS ACCEPTED 

O trimmer, manipulate the scissors witli care. 
Or else thou may est clip the wings of Gabriel. 

I have not, O inhabitants of Europe, described 
to you the fort with its palaces, where a princely 
Governor-General dispenses justice and main- 
tains such order that Khorasan is as tranquil 
as Kerman ; nor have I described in detail the 
other buildings which adjoin the Shrine, for any 
allusion to them would, as we say, be like taking 
the foot of an ant into the presence of Solomon. 

We had now completed our pilgrimage and 
had visited everything which it was right and 
proper to visit. We had even spent some days 
in the cool country of Kuhpaia, where the 
beautiful gardens and the running streams 
surpass description. In short, there was no 
reason for remaining any longer. 

And yearning to return to Kerman took such 
a hold upon Ali Khan that he kept repeating : 

On Friday night I started from Kerman ; 

I did wrong as I turned my back on my friend. 

Indeed, we were all equally affected, and I 
quoted the verses which Rudagi sang at Herat 
to the home-sick A mir Nasr ibn Ahmad : 

The sands of Oxus, toilsome though they be, 
Beneath my feet were soft as silk to me. 
Glad at the friend's return, the Oxus deep 
Up to our girths in laughing waves shall leap. 
Long live Bokhara ! Be thou of good cheer ! 
Joyous towards thee hasteth our Amir ! 

275 



THE SHIA WORLD 

The Moon's the Prince, Bokhara is the sky, 
() sky, the Moon will light thee by-and-by ! 
Bokhara is the mead, the Cypress he. 
Receive, at last, O mead, the Cypress tree ! 

No poem, perhaps, ever produced such sudden 
effect, as the Amir leaped on to the saddled horse, 
which was always kept ready for an emergency, 
without even donning his boots, and left his 
astonished courtiers to follow as best they might. 

We too felt that the sands of the Lut 
would be softer than silk, but not in the least 
toilsome to pilgrims returning home from 
Sacred Meshed, and soon we began to make 
preparations for our return. 

We had started on the pilgrimage in the 
spring time, and we left Meshed, on our return 
journey, at the end of the "Forty days of 
Heat " ; and, AlhamduUllah 1 two months later 
we reached Baghin, which is but one stage 
from Kerman. 

There we were met by many of our nearest 
relations and oldest friends, and Rustam Beg 
brought the Arab horse with the golden trap- 
pings for me to ride. 

The next day, at about a farsakh out we 

were met by half the city, who congratulated us 

so warmly and so lovingly, that, bursting into 

tears, I said, "Allah is my witness that Shah 

276 



THE PILGRIMAGE IS ACCEPTED 

Namat UUah wrote the truth when he composed 
the lines that " We are men of heart." 

Escorted by relations and friends our joyous 
party entered the city and passed through the 
bazaars, where all the shopkeepers rose up in our 
honour, and so to my house. Now my house is 
by no means small, but when I represent that^ 
there was no room for people to stand even in 
the courtyard, I have explained the matter. 

At last my relations and friends had wished 
me "May Allah protect thee," and, tired out 
with the long journey and my reception upon 
returning home, I retired to rest. But before 
sleep like that of the Seven Sleepers overtook 
me, a voice from The Unknown reached my ears, 
a voice of such mellifluous sweetness that its 
very tones brought repose to my mind. Thrice 
it thrilled me with the words, " Thy pilgrimage 
is accepted," and by the grace of the Imam^ to 
him be praise, peace, perfect and infinite, filled 
my soul. 

Tamam Shud. 



PROM AN KARTHENWARE WATER PIPE 



277 



r 



r.lory be to Atkh 
1, the Viee-retreiit of Allah, 
Kultau Abul Hasan Ali, 
Sou of iMuBH-ar-Kizn. 



O CoQqueror of the 
O Chief of the friends 
O Source of Wonders 
O Ali the ChoieD ! 



FROM A LACQUERED PEN BOX 



EPILOGUE 

I was meditating how to write the date of this work 

In hidden but complete verse. 
When Hatif{the Good Angel) put out his head and sang, 

" This book of travel has been speedily completed,'''' ^ 

^ No Persian work can be concluded without its date being shown in 
a verse, each letter 0/ which possesses a numerical value. In the present 
instance, the number is A.H. 1S31 ; but by a poetical conceit, the H 
in Hatif is ^' put out" or deducted, making A.H, 1326 (1908) which 
is the year in which the book wa^ completed. The Persian text runs as 
follows : 



^.crr'^'t:'r 



ft 'i/^6/^^ 




J 



) 




( 






irr fi 

279 



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Printed by R. & R. Clark, Limited, Edinhurgh, 

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14 DAY USE 

RETURN TO DESK FROM WHICH BORROWED 

LOAN DEPT. 

This book is due on the last date stamped below, or 

on the date to which renewed. 

Renewed books are subject to immediate recall. 



REC'D LD 




^ ^AR 2 1978 4 Q 



f^B20t98? 9 > 



Refj-"isJl-/ 



.;3V IS 1977 



, &cnta Crr^ K>n^ 



RlO. ClR^iOV 23 '77 



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RECEIVED 



MAR 24*67 -4 P»fc. Gift may 16 1279 

AUG 2 7 



LOAN DEPT. 



8GCCUL M« 



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T,D 21A-0OW.1O/S5 
(F7763sl0)476B. 



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General Library 

University of California 

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